Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Report: December 12-18

Trips -
MinusCar: 9
Multi-occupant Auto: 7
Single occupant Auto: 7

I had a very nice MinusCar day on the 14th. First off in the morning I attended a board meeting for the local bike club. After that I walked to attend a pre-school Christmas program that included The Boy 3. That walk retraced the route I always took to elementary school, including going by the house I spent 10 years growing up in. From there I rode to work with a coworker who had his own the boy in the program.

My Car Miles: 63
My Bike Miles/Hours: 31/3

As the bike miles decrease and the car miles increase I’m become increasingly concerned with whether The MinusCar Project is accomplishing anything. Here are some key numbers and dates. You can decide.

225 car miles per week prior to the project.

November 28 – the blizzard that closed my shorter way to work and the onset of frigid temperatures.

November 13 – the onset of actual winter temperatures.

Average weekly Car/Bike Miles:
November 28-December 18 - 54/19
November 7-27 – 38/67
October 17-November 6 – 22/89

Morning Temperature Lowlights
12/17 – 9 degrees, wind W 12, windchill -7

A Story and a Ride

Yesterday I parked and bussed. I didn’t do the usual park/bus because I was going to be out past the closing time of the park/bus parking lot. I have an alternate spot for days like these.

It was nice to see Eggs-n-bacon on his way for coffee as I was waiting for the bus. I met Daisy the dog and I think he subtly checked my interest in racing La Ruta De Los Conquistadores in Costa Rica; maybe in a different lifetime buddy.

There was another person waiting for the bus with me. He had a bike with him. I had a bike with me. I marveled at how unlikely it was that there’d be two bikes on a bus on a day with 0-degree temperatures. As it turned out he didn’t know he could bring his bike on the bus. I filled him in on the necessary hoops to jump through to get permission. He seemed pleased. He left his bike leaning against the bus stop bench. Unlocked. He thinks it’s so cold out that nobody will take it. I’ll pass on that idea, and I promise I won’t be the one taking your Wal-Mart-Mongoose.

After work I hooked up with a small group to ride and view some Christmas lights. We rode through two lit parks, one neighborhood with three organized displays, the fed mill that wouldn't lie down, and downtown. During the 90 minute ride the temp went from high teens to single digits. There was very little wind which turns a cold ride into a beautiful ride. We took a break in a public building to either warm up, or to make the rest of the ride really cold. I wasn’t sure which. A gear related discussion occurred where it was revealed that one of us had powered gloves and socks. That is tempting to me. The Owner’s bike was equipped with battery powered Christmas lights. I have GOT to get me some of that. The ride ended at The LBS for some hot chocolate and stories of stupid things we've done on bicycles. Some of the riders included 63-year-old riding phenom Larry, 24 Hours of Afton teammate The Tolly-lama, and a coworker that I've never previously enjoyed a ride with. Perfection.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Reverse Chronological Quick Hits w/ Consumption Sprinkles

A MinusCar reader sent me this link to Saturday’s Star Tribune containing an article about winter biking in the Twin Cities. The reporter decided to give winter bicycle commuting a try. A couple of the cyclists he consulted with for the article are names I recognize from reading Minneapolis bike blogs. Cool!

(12/19 - Update: Sunday my local daily ran this article. Way to go guys, your 15 minutes has been extended to maybe 20.)

I spent a bunch of time with The Owner this afternoon pre-riding and configuring a route for an upcoming ride. It was cold but, it's was VERY nice to ride recreationally and with a riding buddy for a change.

He and I have been discussing a photo that he says appeared in Popular Science Magazine. The photo and accompanying article suggested that Americans threw away 130,000,000 cell phones last year. Is this number even possible? Regardless, this has led to some interesting discussions and thinking about consumption.

Just now, while performing yet another failed search for that photo I came across what apparently is the cover story from the August issue: “How Earth-Scale Engineering Can Save the Planet.” With a sub-heading of “Maybe we can have our fossil fuels and burn ’em too,” this article doesn’t fit well within my paradigm for a life sustaining planet but nevertheless it shows a new, interesting and encouraging perspective.

Speaking of consumption, this morning I went with The Wife to the newly opened The Secret Kitchen. We spent two hours preparing a months worth of recipes to bring home to our freezer. In September we did something similar at Let’s Dish in Maple Grove, MN. The MinusCar Project likes doing this for two reasons: one, many of the family auto trips occur for the express purpose of fetching an evening meal, and B, it seems likely to me that the use of places like this cuts down significantly on garbage leaving the household. Bulk foods probably mean bulk packaging which probably means less consumption.

Friday I cashed in some bus driver goodwill chips. At the end of the day, as I finished up conversating with a workmate, I realized I had likely missed my prime bus ride home. I thought through the consequences of the miss and decided to at least attempt a catch. I quickly gathered my belongings and headed for the door. I took about 10 steps up the street and saw the bus was just approaching my stop…almost a block away. Rats. No. Wait. It’s stopping. Someone is getting off. So I’m running for it, the driver sees me, recognizes me as a regular, and waits for me. I owe him. If the passenger hadn’t gotten off there, the bus would not have stopped and I would have missed it. Coincidentally, I had my first trip with the driver who got written up for skipping me a few months ago. I don’t expect I have any goodwill points with him.

This summer, when I became interested in the North American Solar Challenge (the solar car race that passed by my employers front door) I set up a Google News Alert for those words. Now, after seeing the continued results I get from that news search, I consider the race as somewhat providential. Here’s an informative review of a new book by Shepherd Bliss, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, about peak oil. I guess he’s somewhat of a global warming expert too. The most interesting thing to me in the review was his feeling that peak oil would lead the US to burn more coal. In my mind peak oil leads us to switch to renewable energy. Sigh. I won’t read the book, I believe that would be an unhealthy thing for me to do – “after his first 200 somewhat gloomy pages, Leggett turns to 50 more positive pages.”

Finally, I rode to and from work on Tuesday this week. I had re-configured my ride home based on a very poor experience the week before, in the dark, with snow narrowed streets, and heavy quickly moving traffic. This time, everything was perfection. The new roads I used were great. It helped too that it was 30 degrees warmer than last time I rode. The ride still takes too long to do every day but I think it’s now possible two maybe three times a week.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Passenger Data: December 7 – December 16

12/16 - 5p - Work/SWC – 6 aboard, 1 pickup, 4 drops
12/16 - 2p - Zkota/Work – 8 aboard
12/16 - 12p - Work/SnS – 11 aboard, 1 drop
12/16 - 8a - SWC/Kaladis – 1 aboard, 1 pickup
12/15 - 5p - Work/SWC – 5 aboard, 3 pickups, 4 drops
12/15 - 8a - SWC/Work – 1 aboard
12/14 - 5p - Work/SWC – 13 aboard, 1 pickup, 5 drops
12/14 - 8a - SWC/BagBoy – 3 aboard, 1 pickup, 2 drops
12/13 - 1p - SnS/JJ – 10 aboard, 1 pickup, 1 drop
12/13 - 1p - Work/SnS – 8 aboard, 1 drop
12/12 - 5p - Work/SWC – 6 aboard, 2 pickups, 2 drops
12/12 - 8a - SWC/Work – 2 aboard, 1 pickup, 2 drops
12/9 - 5p - Work/Downtown – 8 aboard, 2 drops
12/9 - 8a - SWC/Work – 1 aboard, 3 pickups
12/7 - 2p - Work/Dentist – 8 aboard, 1 drop
12/7 - 8a - SWC/Work – 1 aboard, 1 drop

Report: December 5-December 11

Trips -
MinusCar: 6
Multi-occupant Auto: 5
Single occupant Auto: 6

My Car Miles: 47
My Bike Miles/Hours: 19/1.9

Morning Temperature Lowlights
12/8 – 2 degrees, CALM

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Katrina, Levees, and City Bicycle Plans

This week I received my invitation to the annual meeting to discuss the city’s Bicycle Plan. It’s in January. If you live locally and want details leave me a comment. I can pass that information along to you. It includes free pizza.

Every year at this meeting for the past 3? 5? 7? more? they tell us that the Army Corps of Engineers is going to raise the river levees to accommodate 100 year flood models.

Every year they promise that this levee raising will require tearing up substantial portions of the local bike path, rendering them useless.

Every year they use this levee raising project as a reason for not completing pavement on effected portions of the local bike path.

One of these sections of incomplete trail includes a portion of my preferred (safest) route to work.

Because this section of trail is unpaved they don’t perform winter maintenance on it.

Because they don’t perform winter maintenance on it I get to settle for a choice of four out-of-the-way, snow and ice affected 20,000 to 40,000 cars-per-day roads to cross the river on.

I think I’ll ask them this year if the city or the Army has learned anything about prioritizing levee reinforcement projects in a post-Katrina world.

Final Thoughts on 12/8 or Why My LBS Loves Me

Last Thursday I completed the round trip bicycle ride to and from work. At the end of the day I had found a handful of even better excuses to add to my reasons for why a week had passed since I had ridden to work.

The good: the CatEye Triple Shot battery/light holds up nicely at zero degrees.

The bad: the NiteRider nickel-metal-hydride battery does not. Neither does the spare.

The ugly: while fumbling with the spare battery for the helmet mounted lighting I embraced my helmet in such a way that plastic/frozen/brittle Giro RocLoc snapped.

Why my LBS loves me: I’ll take a CatEye Double Shot, a new helmet…and a jelly doughnut. To go.

Two hours a day at zero degress, every day is too much. Sure, it shows hardcore cyclist tendencies…but it fails to hold up in the hardcore dad category.

Between this ride and last ride I took the single speed to the LBS so they could shift it. There was substantial gnashing of teeth regarding what gear to shift it to. We chose well. Thanks for the help guys!

On the way home, in the dark, without a working helmet mounted light, I found the siren song of sidewalk safety irresistible. I was not happy with that. Every block, in the middle of preparing for the block-ending wheelie over the mound of snow plow droppings I’m also checking over the shoulder for right turning cars. This is not a winning combination. I think more research could reveal a more comfortable route home...but that means. more. research. Where's my drawing board?


Does sponsorship work? - I've been passed probably a dozen times in my life by Jeff Kerkove at the 24 Hours of Afton. Because of this I read Jeff Kerkove's blog. Jeff Kerkove was sponsored by CatEye last year. I was looking to upgrade my lighting systems last year. I was fearful of switching to LED technology. CatEye LED technology was good enough for him, that was good enough for me. Thanks Jeff.

In the News: Climate Change

OIFS identified this CNN article highlighting the closing of a two-week UN Climate Change conference which featured a surprise speech from former President Clinton. The purpose of the conference was to work out details of the Kyoto Protocol beyond its current scope for the year 2012.

From there you can visit CNN's Changing Earth Special Report.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Syriana starring George C. Looney

All I know about the movie Syriana I learned today from these two articles.

James Lileks says this:
Entertainment Weekly, incidentally, has this synop of 'Syriana.' 'A dense, proudly complicated drama of geopolitical intrigue that has a lot of big, important things to say about big, important things [oil, the CIA, the media, everything] and doesn’t care whether audiences understand what’s being said. B-.
Translation: a didactic, incomprehensible mess based on the 437th post in a Democratic Underground post about Cheney, but it sticks it to the Man, so we can’t give it a C+.)
Here is a CNN article with some themes that James Lileks might think are incomprehensible and messy:

Writer/Director Stephen Gaghan:
I have a '66 GTO convertible with a 6.5-liter engine. The switch for me to…Priuses does not come terribly easy.
And the second hour, it's all thematics, about shared humanity, about the things buried in us in which we give ourselves a little moral out, little moral asterisks.
Oilmen who have seen the movie have been ‘weirdly positive’ – ‘nobody's against trying to improve ethical conduct’
Actor Jeffrey Wright:
[We have a system] that requires us to suck up the resources of the world to support our lifestyle. It's an indictment of all of us.
By the way the “437th post in a Democratic Underground post about Cheney” is actually a book, “See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism” by Robert Baer.

And then there’s this challenge described by Gaghan:
I've been party to so many conversations in New York and L.A. where people explain that the middle of the country won't do this, the middle of the country won't do that, the flyover won't get this, the flyover won't get that," he says, his voice rising. "I am the flyover. I'm from Kentucky. ... I am the red state flyover you are talking about, and you -- are -- selling -- me -- short.
I can’t wait to go and see if I’m as dumb as I’m supposed to be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ride This Way

I finally did it. After a week off, I rode today.

On-bike temperature showed there was one degree out there. I'm happy to report I found it. I was near the park. It proved hard to hold on to because a short while later on-bike temperature showed zero. Then I started giving some back as on bike temperature dipped to MinusOne.

Full Face Helmet Guy rode today. There wasn't much track evidence that he'd been riding this whole time, but it seems unlikely to me we’d both choose today to start riding again.

On the big climb of the ride I recognized a co-worker as he drove by. When I got to work I told him it was awesome how he pressed down just a little bit on the Yukon accelerator and climbed the hill without a noticeable heart rate increase.

I saw The Owner too.

It’s been so long since I’d ridden I left the bike lock at home. I snuck the bike in the back door, found the sump pit, and parked the bike over it. Inside parking. Necessity is inventions mother!

Walk This Way

Today began with the all too common and familiar poor weather park/ride bus option. Over the past 7 days, when I haven’t been poor weather park/riding I’ve been just plain driving to work.

As the days go by I’ve been increasingly frustrated with myself for my lack of riding. I’ve got a handful of excuses for not riding. As good as some of them are none of them add up to even a second on a bicycle. The blogger support system I have in place is showing some wear, but it’s been great reading about all the other cold weather riders who actually are still riding. There’s always tomorrow, eh?

As I read The Local Daily on the bus I was pleasantly surprised to find it picked up an AP article about cycling and the new transportation bill. Here’s a link to the article as it appears in the Oregon Corvallis Gazette-Times. The big highlight:
"(Columbia, MO mayor) Hindman, who has worked on cycling issues for many of his 11 years as mayor, now has an embarrassment of riches — helping to figure out how to spend $25 million in federal money over the next five years to improve bicycling and walking routes in his community."
Speaking of improving walking routes:

I cut out of work early in the afternoon and hopped the bus to the dentist (yet again). The people there remember well a few weeks ago when I appeared for an appointment in full cold weather bike regalia. Of course they asked today if I biked, but they never followed through enough to find out how I actually had gotten there, or how I was leaving.

As I stepped out of the dentist office into the 9-degree 0-wind day of winter perfection a few ideas converged in my head. I have the next two hours to myself. It’s reasonable walking distance to the record store, from there it’s a reasonable walking distance to where my wife is working, and from there it’s a reasonable distance to my park/ride car. And finally, repeat after me, walking sure beats waiting for buses.

I dialed up my weekly podcast listening and started walking. I nearly crossed paths with the only cyclist I saw but had to wait at a crosswalk. I nearly crossed paths with the only pedestrians I saw, but they diverted to a nearby restaurant restroom. In the record store parking lot I nearly observed a parking lot fender bender, but only looked up at the sound of cracking plastic. Ah, what could have been.

I emerged from the record store $12 lighter, the new Korn CD heavier, and a little warmer than I had been going in. The bumper car guys were still getting to know each other. “Dude, my dad is so gonna kill me.” I continued my walk.

I laughed this morning when I read the Nation Weather Service forecast:
Seems to me this is a better season than most to have single digit temperatures, but that’s just me. As I walked I marveled at my khakis ability to keep my legs warm and wondered if maybe I’m wearing too much on my legs when I ride. I stopped on the bridge over the river and noticed the flowing water was clear enough to see the bottom. I also notice the river was flowing. Guess I won't be riding there this weekend.

One hour and 2.5-ish miles later I had arrived at my car. From there I scouted a possible route to work for the morning. I stopped off at the ice cream shop to warm up with a nice bowl of chocolate peppermint swirly ice cream, and then picked up The Boys and went home.

That’s my story. I'd rather be riding. Maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Passenger Data: November 23 – December 6

12/6 – 5p – Work to Station – 7 aboard, 1 pickup, 1 drop
12/6 – 1p – Lunch to Work – 8 aboard, 3 pickup, 4 drop
12/6 – 12p – Work to Lunch – 7aboard
12/6 – 8a – Station to Work – 1 aboard
12/2 – 5p – Work to Station – 6 aboard
12/2 – 2p – Lunch to Work – 9 aboard, 1 pickup, 1 drop
12/2 – 12p – Work to Lunch – 8 aboard
12/2 – 8a – Station to Work – 2 pickups
11/29 – 5p – Work to Station – 1 pickup, 1 drop
11/29 – 8a – Station to Work – 2 pickups
11/28 – 5p – Work to Station – 3 aboard, 1 pickup, 2 drop
11/28 – 8a – Station to Work – 2 aboard, 1 pickup

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Beware the Penguin

Today I spent too much time playing this Shockwave game.

Report: November 28-December 4

Trips -
MinusCar: 7
Multi-occupant Auto: 8
Single occupant Auto: 6

Winter strikes. Monday blizzard, bus no bike. Tuesday, I drove almost as if The MinusCar Project didn’t exist. Wednesday biked to work, hitched a ride home with The Wife after 4 inches of daytime snow fell. Thursday/Friday, I did the poor weather bus option, half of the single occupant trips are these.

The hardest part of riding the bus got harder this week too. Now, standing on the street waiting for a bus is cold. Also, the benches have snow on them, when I sit I can at least pretend to be buried by a magazine. And then there’s the whole thing of standing on the street in falling snow with busses running late because of the weather.

Thankfully, from the beginning The MinusCar Project included the use of busses. If I hadn’t done that all this non-bike-riding would BE failure, as opposed to just FEELING like failure.

My Car Miles: 51
My Bike Miles/Hours: 8/0.9

Morning Temperature Lowlights
11/30 – 14 degrees, wind ESE 6, windchill 2

Sunday, December 04, 2005


On the horizon of this picture is the tallest building in the state. It's a 202 feet tall feed mill. Yesterday the community turned out to watch them blow it up. There were prime invitation only viewing opportunities. Raffle tickets were sold for the MS Society, the winner would be the one to press the button. The event has it's own website. The promotion of the event went on for weeks.

As you can see it didn't go very well. It's no longer the tallest building in the state, but it's not the shortest one yet, either.

There's a very good movie at the local daily of the failure.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Red Lights/Red Mist

There's plenty of discussion about cyclists riding through red lights. I don't know of any surveys of cyclist caused driver irritation, but I bet if there are any this is right close to the top.

I'd like to recognize red-light running as a vehicular problem, not specifically a cycling problem.

In this town there's an intersection monitored by infamous red-light cameras.

Through September of this year 4,571 citations have been issued at this intersection. In July alone (the high month) 33 citations a day were issued.

Red light running isn't just a cycling problem.

Coming soon: The MinusCar Project identifies which red lights he rides through, and further admits his secret desire to be cited for it.

(I'm lucky nobody reads this thing.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No. No. Yes

People kept asking…”did you ride your bike today?” Monday I answered no. Tuesday I could say I’d probably ride Wednesday. By the end of Tuesday I had turned the question around and started asking people how they got to work. This brought out a few not necessarily happy responses. I'm musing heavily on that today. I think it has a lot to do with what's normal and who gets to decide what normal is. Turning the question seems to turn normal around too, which is um...not normal.

I have a friend who says normal is a setting on your dryer.

Wednesday morning I rode to work:

My 35 minute ride was 55 minutes.

I walked through some of the deeper stuff.

I can understand drivers not knowing about yielding to the right in uncontrolled intersections. “Yield the right of waaaayyy…let’s see, that for the one with the smaller vehicle, right?” I can’t understand the thinking behind not bringing your Red Durango to a stop when it becomes clear that if you continue your current trajectory you’ll run over a person. I stopped when she clearly demonstrated her willingness to run over me was greater than my desire to be run over

I think I’m going to need a lighter gear on the winter single speed.

A new temp guy at work, he just started, saw me near shopping central. At that point he’s thinking “look, crazy guy.” Imagine his surprise when, 30 minutes later, he’s out shoveling snow and I arrive. "Yes, that was me. Yes, it's exercise, I'm not so sure I'd call it good exercise."

I wasn't the only set of bike tracks on out there. I didn't see Full Face Helmet Guy, but I hoped some of the tracks were his.

Work closed early again today. It snowed. I caught a ride with The Wife. The YakRack locks were frozen. The snowy bike went in the car. The snowy parts melted. Bummer.

I’m not riding tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Insane Clowns & Unsane Weather

“It's the sense of touch…in any real city you walk. You know, you brush past people. People bump into you. In LA nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass (car). I think we miss that touch so much we crash into each other just so we can feel something.” -- Paul Haggis, screenplay, Crash

Sunday began with rain and the promise of an imminent winter storm. It’s tough to turn rain to snow when the day’s temperature starts at 51 degrees. It rained all day and all night. I can’t imagine how much snow there’d be if temperatures would have been somewhat close to the 15 to 35 normal range.

Monday began with rain and the promise of an imminent winter storm. At 8am it happened, the rain turned to snow. I chose the bad weather bus park/ride option to get to work. At 2pm the announcement came, they were sending us home.

As I packed up to leave it occurred to me that I might be a tad underdressed to stand on the street peering into 25mph blowing snow hoping for a bus that increasing felt as though it may never come. Just as I pulled out my phone to receive assurances that the bus system was running, out of the flying snow my bus appeared. Phew.

As we approached the end of the line the driver became pretty excited about the crazy weather and helping all his passengers make their connections. He already had one bus holding uncomfortably long at the park/ride when he picked up and took action for a second passenger who wanted a bus that had already departed.

Along here I noticed a guy walking along the road. I noticed him because he was wearing an ICP hoody. I always notice ICP hoodies. I thought maybe he looked at my bus and wished he was on it.

The driver stopped just long enough alongside the waiting park/ride bus for us to get off and then began to pursue the bus for the second passenger, forgetting for a few moments that he also needed to pick up passengers. He must have realized his error when he looked in the rearview and saw passengers scattered in his wake in various stages of shock and disbelief. He stopped, blocking the path of the still waiting park/ride bus, and they all ambled across the parking lot and boarded. Heh heh, crazy weather.

I found my driver door frozen shut. With a small amount of coercion the downwind passenger door opened. I began to scrape windows and noticed ICP Hoody Guy was approaching me. He had a hastily scribbled San Luiz Ave address on a piece of paper and wanted help finding it. I wasn’t familiar with that road and invited him to the warmth of the building where we could call The Wife to Google Map it.

Dial once. Busy. Dial twice. Busy. He pulls out a phone number. Well, now we’ve got something we can use. While he calls the number and begins to discuss his destination and location in Spanish I begin to muse on the ideas and lessons of risk and race presented in the movie Crash.

As he’s looking out the windows identifying landmarks directly across the street I become simultaneously aware of two things: one, San Luiz Ave is South Louise Avenue which is the road we’re on, and B, I’m an idiot.

I check out his hoody, ICP it’s not. Jokers Wild it is. I don’t know what that means, but there’s just something really cool and creepy about well drawn frowning clowns. Jeans, typical. Feet, sandals. That crack you heard was my jaw bouncing off the floor. Sandals! This guy is a tad underdressed.

He finished his conversation. It was clear that he knew where he was going and that it was within a block. Off he went.

Today I was out from behind my metal and glass and was called friend by a blizzard walking sandal wearing Spanish speaking complete stranger.

I’ll take it.

Report: November 21-27

Trips -
MinusCar: 7
Multi-occupant Auto: 9
Single occupant Auto: 3

There were plenty of car trips to take this week with the Thanksgiving holiday and family in town. Friday was especially heavy with The Wife at work and me home with The Boys and haircuts and lunches and parades.

My total bike miles were aided by a very special LBS Thanksgiving Day Ride. I rode to the ride but was unable to complete the round trip by bike. The 20 degree temps, 15mph north wind, and body heat generating exertion levels governed by the group (as opposed to being governed by my personal need for warmth) broke me down. The Owner was kind enough to drive me home.

My Car Miles: 44
My Bike Miles/Hours: 86/6.4

Morning Temperature Lowlights
11/24 – 18 degrees, wind North 10, windchill 5

Friday, November 25, 2005

In the News: Alternative Energy

In the past few days I’ve managed to take a few articles off my “to be read” pile.

Most interesting and exciting was “The New Power Generation” by Daniel Pink @ Wired.

This article features some couples and a Chicago restaurant that have begun powering their homes and businesses with solar and wind power. Pink helpfully includes some of the dollar amounts involved in switching to alternative power; both the upfront costs and what might come back in savings, grants and rebates.

Most surprising to me was the number of homes in the country that have switched to alternative energy sources: “Across the US some 185,000 households have switched from the local power company to their own homegrown, renewable energy.”

Tyler @ the Clean Break blog (I LOVE THIS BLOG) posted highlights of Hillary Clinton’s address to the Cleantech Venture Forum VIII.

She said: “The energy revolution can be as big and as important as the industrial revolution and the explosion of the information age. If we don't get about the business of leading that revolution we will be left behind.”

Speaking of being left behind: “Toyota closes in as GM's star fades” – The Seattle Times

Finally Will Wade AT…yup, writes about Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric and two solar powered projects they’re planning with Stirling Energy Systems. These projects will be in the California desert.

"Without question, this will be the largest solar project in the world," said Gil Alexander, a spokesman for SoCal Edison. "It will be bigger than all U.S. solar-energy projects combined."

McASP November 25 & Alternative Energy

DSTI - DayStar Technologies (-20%)
ENER - Energy Conversion Devices (-19%)
ESLR - Evergreen Solar 48%
SPIR - Spire Corporation (-24%)

Right now Evergreen Solar is the star of the portfolio. Its $126 gain offsets much of the $151 loss from the other three.

Here’s a nice review of the solar power industry in this article by Joanna Glasner at In a single paragraph she mentions all four of the McASP stocks.

She also mentions the Sunpower IPO which occurred on November 17. It made pretty big news with a 40% gain on its first day.

Is solar power tbe next .com?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Days Two Rides

Monday was a quintessential MinusCar day. I needed to swap some boxes of fundraising popcorn with the Cubmaster at his home. These boxes too bulky to carry in the bag. His home is a block off the route The Wife often travels to and from work.

In the morning I loaded her car with the popcorn. For lunch we met in her work parking lot. I put the bike on top of the car and traveled with her to make the swap. After that I pulled the bike off and she continued home. I went for a lunchtime ride.

As I arrived at The Namesake I realized that the day was exceptionally gorgeous. I pulled out the camera and fumbled my way around the granite with my cleated bike shoes. The cool temperature was messing with the camera battery so I wasn’t able to take all the pictures I saw but here’s one:

Tuesday I had to stay at work late. Staying late and having an evening meeting already scheduled meant calling home and being written off for supper. THAT gave me a few extra minutes to ride IF I got the work done.

I got the work done.

It was completely dark when I departed work. I headed to the local bike path where I enjoyed my ride while chasing rabbits with the helmet mounted light, and seeing all the little critters eyes reflect back to me. Blink, blink. I love night riding. I made it just in time to the meeting. I attended in full bike regalia; no doubt smelling of sweat and the outdoors.

50 miles in two days. In November.

Passenger Data: November 2 - 22

11/15 – 5p – Work to Station – 1 pickup
11/15 – 8a – Station to Work – 1 aboard, 1 pickup, 1 drop

A November article in the local daily announced the good news that high gas prices have brought to local mass transit. September ridership was up close to 20% over the previous year. That 20% improved year to date riding by 3%.

I guess as gas prices creep back down the numbers have gone back to normal. I was pretty lonely on the 15th.

Report: November 14-20

Trips -
MinusCar: 6
Multi-occupant Auto: 9
Single occupant Auto: 5

These numbers reflect the dropping temperatures. I can no longer pick The Boys up at the end of the day on bicycles. I still do most of my own transport by bicycle. This week I barely managed to bicycle more than drive my car.

Monday and Tuesday were days of the wet and rainy variety. Monday I strait drove to work and ran some errands in it during lunch. Errands included taking The Single to the LBS for studded tire and fender installation. I drove lots of single occupant miles this day. Tuesday, to get to work, I did the rain option of driving to the park/ride and taking the bus.

My Car Miles: 50
My Bike Miles/Hours: 53/4.2

Morning Temperature Lowlights
11/16 – 12 degrees, wind West Northwest 21, windchill –7
11/17 – 16 degrees, wind South Southeast 13, windchill 3

I found the 11/16 ride pretty difficult.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Report: November 7-13

It’s Friday already and I haven’t reported on last week.

Trips -
MinusCar: 5
Multi-occupant Auto: 10
Single occupant Auto: 7

With The Wife out of town it was my turn to handle the daily drop offs. Three days of heavy vehicle use and not so heavy bicycle use. Weeks like these make it painfully obvious how difficult The Project would be without my willing teammate.

The MinusCar Project acknowledges the reality that it cannot be about "no car garages." It absolutely can be (and is) about one car garages, or even about cars being parked in driveways more often than being driven on parkways.

My Car Miles: 19
My Bike Miles/Hours: 62/4.7

Morning Temperature Lowlights
11/10 – 33 degrees, wind South 10, windchill 24

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Days Like Today...

Today was a much better cycling day than yesterday. I suspect yesterday I may have found a limit to the temperature and windchill that I’m willing to endure. Further testing is required.

This morning I saw two 16-degree commuting cyclists. Full-face Helmet Guy was one of them. I noticed he's adorned ski goggles. If it’s good enough for him it might be good enough for…today I received an e-mail from Smith Optics. I can win some! Providence?

I added another set of bicycle tracks to the snow on my morning commute. That makes two sets of tracks, me today and me yesterday.

Three people at work have noted I’m still riding to work. Two of them encountered me on the road and thought I was pretty tough. “Why yes, yes I am. Thank you.” I’m always sure to thank them for not taking the opportunity to run me over. One of the three admitted that he’d figured I’d for sure give up by now.

A hidden pitfall of cycling to work: the afternoon trips for lunch are more difficult. I had gotten used to walking a few blocks for lunch. When I ride to work when it’s this cold I don’t have an appropriate coat for trips to lunch. It’s easier to get back on the bike and ride far away for lunch than to change into neoprene and walk down the street.

Speaking of what to wear, I cut out of work early to run some errands. First stop, the dentist. Should I wear enough to stay warm on the bike, or enough to be able to sit comfortably through the appointment? I wore less on the bike and it proved the correct decision...until I got back on the bike. My body had adjusted to the indoor temperature in the current clothing. Brrrr…

Then I went to a picture framer.

Then I went to pick up some embroidery work.

A few weeks ago The Owner loaned me his Timbuk2 messenger bag. I immediately loved it! Previously I had been using a backpack. My two favorite things about the new bag: when looking over the shoulder for traffic I don’t have to look around the backpack and the bag doesn’t fall off my shoulder when I’m off the bike. I can’t believe I haven't switched to this already. Messengers know a thing or two about urban cycling, duh. The Owner is a good salesman. I customized and then bought my own from him. Then I took it somewhere else for the embroidery.

With all these stops there were plenty of people to suffer the shock and awe of a person on a bicycle at below freezing temperatures. I admitted to the dental hygienist that I have a strong commitment to using a car as little as possible. I mentioned I’d filled up with gas three times (it might be four) since June. Her response involved the money saved from not buying gas. If minds begin to change about global warming responses will likely tend toward the idea of limiting green-house-gas emissions more often than money or health, or simply how crazy it is that a person rides a bike for utility. I wonder if that day will ever come.

The other most common offering was the suggestion that it’s a bit chilly to be riding a bicycle. The best part about having suffered through yesterday was it allowed me to answer with: “it's less chilly than it was yesterday.”

A light snow began falling toward the end of my errand running. It was a perfect ending to a very good cycling day.

Upon arriving home I changed clothes and headed out on foot for school conferences. I enjoyed an ice cream novelty on my way. It reminded me of the “it’s so cold the Eskimos are sucking on icicles to keep warm” joke. I almost fell three times on uncleared sidewalks. Add this to the reasons I don’t ride on sidewalks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Bout of Winter: If It Can Go Wrong...

…it will go wrong when it’s most important for things to go right.

On bike temperature: 9 (-7 windchill)
Wind: WNW 21

What to Wear

Feet: normal socks, wool socks, shoes, neoprene booties. This won’t work for rides much colder than this one. The next level of warmth will come by replacing clipless pedals with platforms and wearing actual snow boots.

Legs: padded briefs, poly tights, neoprene tights. I can probably go a few degrees colder.

Torso: thermal undershirt, thermal jersey, neoprene jacket. This could work for another 10 degrees, maybe more.

Hands: windproof liners, windproof fleece. This could work for another 10 degrees.

Head: balaclava, helmet, sunglasses. Eyewear is an issue because it’s the only exposed skin. Ski goggles have been recommended to me but I’m not ready to do that. I found the balaclava comes with some vision limitations.

What Happened

Sunglasses aren’t going to work at this temperature. They fog too easily. Remove from face and fold around messenger bag chest strap for storage. (Note: foreshadowing)

Altered placement for rear blinky, to accommodate newly installed rear fender, interferes with legs. Will adjust later.

Newly installed very cold plastic front fender breaks on first bump that fully compresses the front suspension.

As I turn to face the longest stretch into the wind the chest strap of the messenger bag comes out of the buckle. I choose to push on and adapt to the new lack of bagular stability. (Note: poor decision)

Come to realization that sunglasses got tossed when the bag strap detached. Turn around and ride back (with the wind, ahhh) to find them. Thankfully I hadn’t run over them.

Arrive at work to find newly configured bike with studded tires and fenders exceeds maximum cable lock functionality.

Change clothes and enter building possibly the only sweaty person in the city.

Next Up

The ride home is going to be very cool, erm, nice. Less wind, and a few more degrees could feel tropical. And it’s going to be post sunset. Bike lights dancing on white snow. I think I’ll ride what passes for urban singletrack tonight to make it even more special.

A Bout of Winter

I was a day late. Monday I drove The Single to the LBS for studded tire installation and fenders. Fenders will be a new thing for me this year.

Tuesday the wind cranked up to 30mph and some snow flew. The Single wasn't complete and I don't usually start rides in precipitation so I did the rain option bus ride to work. On the way home I picked up the bike.

Tuesday night we found The Boy 7 in a boot and snow pant deficient way. The remedy involved yet another trip in the car. We learned we weren't the only people unwilling to shop for these items in 50-degree temperatures. Three stops later we found a store with a remaining selection. The salesdude said boots started moving 24 hours ago and they were about out now. The previous stop, Target, was essentially already out.

This morning's ride to work will be a true winter riding experience. 12-degrees, 24mph wind. It's going to be difficult to dress because it's going to be difficult to move from 30 wind-chill to -8. I would have preferred a couple 15-degree tests.

Wish me luck.

The Global Thermometer

A few weeks ago I joked with some MinusCar Project aware co-workers about getting me a watch-type device that monitored global temperature.

A couple days ago I was Googling Steven Moore's "War Against the Car" article and found the people over at have one.

So go there and as an added bonus learn why global warming is based on junk science.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The War Against The Car, Pt II

Stephen Moore from the Wall Street Journal would like you to know that I'm "childish" and part of a "modern day Luddite movement." Go here to learn just how crazy I am. Thanks to Oil/Sissy Blog (as usual) for featuring this article first.

Paragraph 1 – “…asking the kids what was the worst invention in history. I was shocked when a number of them answered ‘the car.’”

I don't know where Mr. Moore sends his kids to school, but my second grader has no similar notions. Mr. Moore might focus more on that particular teacher than a so called "Green indoctrination."

By the way, what was that shocking number Mr. Moore? One? Two? And what do YOU think the worst invention in history is?

Paragraph 2 – “But with higher gas prices, as well as Malthusian-sounding warnings about catastrophic global warming and the planet running out of oil, the tirade has taken on a new plausibility.”

Why yes, yes it has, hasn’t it. I’m glad we agree. Are you schizophrenic? In the rest of this article you argue heavily against yourself.

Paragraph 3 – “In the left's vision of utopia, cars have been banished -- replaced by bicycles and mass transit systems.”

If by left you mean me, this guy, and the 14 bus riders in my city, then you might be right, although I suspect 13 of the bus riders are just trying to get to their job. Anyway, we’re not a big bunch, and most of us are poor and uneducated so you can probably rest a little easier than you apparently are.

If by left you mean The Left, you're wrong.

Paragraph 4 – “It all sounds idyllic, but in real life this fairy tale has a tragic ending.”

This is exactly what I've been thinking!

Paragraph 5 – “hundreds of blacks owned cars and trucks that they used to carpool others around the city.”

Sheesh, I thought this was going to be an argument! What do you say you and I give carpooling together a try next week?

Paragraph 6 – “A strong argument could be made that the automobile is one of the two most liberating inventions of the past century…”

I'd like to see you have the argument with David Hilfiker, a man who’s humility suggests to me that he knows something you’ll never understand.
David Hilfiker: “…when the Interstate Highway Program started during the Eisenhower administration. When these superhighways went through cities, poor black areas were usually the ones disrupted. Either the area was simply razed and the former inhabitants moved into public housing or the highway was placed so as to create a physical boundary between the black ghetto and other areas of the city, effectively isolating the inhabitants.”
Is that the liberation you speak of?

”The car allowed even the common working man total freedom of mobility -- the means to go anywhere, anytime, for any reason.”

Yep. And they went to the suburbs. Maybe this is the liberation you were thinking of.
David Hilfiker: “At the same time, efficient modes of transportation were coming into use, so the affluent were able to avoid this onslaught of "undesirables" by moving from the central cities. It was, in some ways, the beginnings of American suburbanization. Most immigrants could not afford to move away from the places where they worked, so they lived close to the factories and tended to live together in the same neighborhoods, choosing to live in a culture familiar to them. These were the first American urban ghettos.”
Paragraph 7 – “The recently passed highway bill establishes a first-ever office of bicycle advocacy inside the Transportation Department. “

An idea so crackpot a Republican Congress and a Republican Executive signed it in to law.

“The bicycle enthusiasts seem to believe that no one ever has far to go, that it never rains, that families don't have three or more kids to transport, and that mom never needs to bring home three bags of groceries.”

Apparently you haven’t been reading The MinusCar Project.

Paragraph 8 – “Even many of the oil companies are running ad campaigns on the virtues of using less energy…”

There are guys parked outside my house. They’re in a black Suburban with very dark tinted windows. “Big Oil” is painted on the side of the vehicle. They’ve been there since June. I’m going to show your article to them. Hopefully when they read that you’re lumping them in with liberal, Green, childish, environmental Luddites they’ll leave and go sit outside your house.

“…which would be like McDonald's advising Americans to eat fewer hamburgers…”

My understanding is that McDonald’s will be putting nutrition information on their packaging in the near future. That's pretty darn close to advising Americans to eat fewer hamburgers if you ask me.

“A perverse logic has taken hold among the intelligentsia that progress can be measured by how much of the earth's fuels we save, when in fact the history of human economic advancement, dating back to the invention of the wheel, has been defined by our ability to substitute technology and energy use for the planet's one truly finite resource: human energy.”

The pot calling the kettle perverse!

Paragraph 11 – “…big, convenient, safe cars…”

Mr. Moore, 44,000 people die a year in traffic related incidents. If you're looking for perverse logic, here’s a quote you used in your fourth paragraph, “if the ‘no car garage’ had been a reality in New Orleans in August, we wouldn't have suffered 1,000 Katrina fatalities, but 10,000 or more.”

Paragraph 12 – “But for the rest of us the car is indispensable -- it is our exoskeleton.”

To this I plead no contest.


I was just kidding about the Suburban outside my house. "Big Oil" isn't really painted on its side.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The Wife comes home tonight! It's a good thing. I just screwed up grilled cheese sandwiches. Cut me a little slack though, I burned two beyond recognition but the third, for The Boy 3, was coming out perfect, until I flipped it with the same spatula as the other two.

That's the wheat/butter spatula on the wheat/dairy free grilled cheese.


Have you ever seen a wheat/dairy free grilled cheese sandwich?

Two doh's! and a no!

The Wife is absent for a few days. Tuesday night:

We played Playdoh. Lots!
We listened to Techno.

I served The Boy 3 his supper while he continued to play. At one point he forgot what he was doing and picked up a piece of Playdoh and put it in his mouth.


He wasn't happy about that. Tonight we're gonna see if he can walk and chew gum.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Report: October 31 – November 6

Trips -
MinusCar: 7
Multi-occupant Auto: 9
Single occupant Auto: 2

Active social lives are keeping these numbers high. Two single occupant trips, both for end of day picking up of The Boys.

My Car Miles: 9
My Bike Miles/Hours: 91/6.9

Morning Temperature Lowlights
11/4 – 30 degrees, wind CALM

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Proximity and The Dad

A popular argument, excuse, reason or obstacle against riding a bike to work is the distance between a person’s residence and their work. The I Live Here and Work There Argument is pretty persuasive for a lot of people. Just like The George Bushes declaring the American way of life non-negotiable, people also claim their right to live 30 miles away from the places they travel to the most.

Famous pessimist James Howard Kunstler sees an interesting future for our soon to be energy starved world. He holds very little hope for suburbia, and suggests that life will soon become “profoundly local.” If Kunstler's a bit too dark Oil Is For Sissy’s happily points to a more palatable November 5 Star Tribune article. Any similarities to Kunstler’s future and the Strib’s present might not be coincidental.

27 years ago my parents cashed in their portion of the American dream for a different dream. We moved to this town and began living profoundly local. The home we moved to was smaller and three blocks from dad’s work. He walked or biked year round for 20 years. It’s amazing to me that as I meditate and ponder all the issues and concerns I face while living out The MinusCar Project, my parents have already modeled many of the answers.

My dad no longer works the same job. The house my parents live in is much further than three blocks from dad’s work.

My dad rode his bike to work as much as I did last week. He says I inspire him.

My dad turns 62 today.

Happy Birthday Dad. You’ve been modeling the right things for me even when you couldn’t possibly have known how right they were.

Thanks. I am a lucky man.

Sometimes it’s Better to Be Lucky

Friday provided a fitting end to a harrowing week of cycling. I hooked up with Rotsap and LBS-Chad for a lunchtime recreational ride. I haven’t been on a recreational ride in a very long time. The ride ended up reinforcing just how unlucky I’ve been this week…except that, by the end if Friday I realized it had been a really lucky week.

I rode the newly forked race bike to work in anticipation of the possibility of a lunchtime ride. By the 11am start time I was knee deep in work related mayhem and made arrangements for the ride to come by in an hour.

I snuck out the back door and we headed downtown for a quick chat at shores of the city namesake. A short distance later we admired the BOOM banner placed on the long abandoned soon to be razed downtown feed mill. We rode on enjoying the camaraderie that comes with group ride formation on the local trails with trusted biking buddies.

And then disaster struck. I was standing and cranking up a short steep section and my chain snapped. My weight pitched precariously forward and I briefly performed an impromptu nose stand. Fortunately for us Rotsap had part of a Cool Tool™ that we coupled with a wheel skewer to reconnect the chain. And off we rode.

And then disaster struck. I flatted. Fortunately for us Rotsap Evad had 10 year old Park Speed Patches and an Innovations Big Air that was first punctured last August. There was just enough air to continue the ride, and the patch held.

Rotsap departed early and then disaster struck. We hit what passes for urban singletrack in this town and found a fallen tree limb blocking the path. We decided to perform some trail maintenance, and soon both of us got taken for a ride by the limb as it fell into the river. A little sore and a little shook, we continued to the end of the ride.

It wasn’t till the end of the day that I realized just how lucky I had been all week. I had three serious incidents with cars, and two opportunities for injury on Friday’s ride. What made me realize I was lucky? When I got home after meeting all the family related Friday night obligations I put the bike away and found the front tire was completely flat. The patch had held just long enough for me to do what I needed to do.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Habits Form...Lessons Taught

It's hard to account for everything, which is why rules for safety matter. Here’s a rule: don’t pass on the right. Like good art, if you learn the rules well, then you’ll be able to find the best ways to break them.

At red light intersections, when I intend to turn right, and traffic is backed up, and the lead car is blocking the way for any other cars that would otherwise turn right, I (with varying levels of caution) can’t resist passing on the right and making my turn.

This morning I did that. This morning at a red light I passed a single vehicle on the right. This morning the passenger door of that vehicle opened. This morning I was lucky, there was no contact. This morning, if someone was trying to teach me a lesson, I learned it. This situation is written here as collision #3, the part that applies specifically is in the final paragraph.

In other hot car bike action, Wednesday while I was getting right hooked in the northern plains, Fatty was getting right hooked in the northwest. He didn’t come out quite as lucky as I did. Go here to read his story. I think the conversation in the comments has high potential to be very interesting too.

Not the Weatherman I'm Looking For

"Still, this afternoon’s high temperature will be above the average for this time of year. Unbelievable, huh?" - from this mornings e-mailed forecast from Shawn Cable.

Yeah, yeah, unbelievable.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Passenger Data: October 5 – November 2, 2005

If the rules change (like they did in August) to picking up passengers at “designated bus stops only”, it seems important that the drivers know where those stops are…

It’s been a long time since I last reported on how many people are riding the bus with me. I haven’t been riding the bus. Riding bicycle to and from work in the nice cool weather has been great

It hasn’t rained or snowed for a long time, so that hasn’t pushed me onto the bus either.

Thursday last week I waited at a designated stop to take the bus downtown. My first ride in almost a month. The Wife and I were meeting for lunch. This day I came to realize there is something worse than standing idly on a busy street waiting for a bus. It’s standing idly on a busy street waiting for a bus that then refuses to pick me up. The driver pointed up the street and held up two fingers. Assuming I had the stop wrong (and knowing I didn't), I half heartedly ran half a block hoping that maybe if I showed a little hustle he’d wait. He didn’t.

So I met The Wife by bike at a quaint little café. We were a very mismatched couple, she in her professional gear, and I in my biking regalia.

I e-mailed my story to the transit company. They were pretty quick to respond that things have been corrected. I’m sorry to the driver, it will be interesting next time I board his bus. I’m also sorry to those that have been boarding two blocks up...they're sure going to be confused when their stop disappears tomorrow.

Adventures In Cycling

Record highs expected today. I'd like to know of at least one television weather person who is as uneasy with record highs as I am. I figure odds are pretty good that if such a person did exist, and this person was still allowed on TV, that they'd be in Portland, Oregon.

Today's ride to work was more adventurous than usual. I hadn’t gone two blocks before getting brushed to the side of the road by a school bus. This could be fun, the school bus has a route and the route goes by my house. I can see this bus every day if I time my departure properly. As our relationship blossoms maybe we'll both understand a few things we didn’t know before about vehicle traffic. After all, we are professionals aren't we.

A few blocks later, and not a minute after the bus and I parted ways, I got right hooked (collision type #4). No contact, but it was the worst right hook to date for me. I saw it coming a block before the driver did so I was reasonably prepared with the proper evasive action. Living in a town my size sure is great! Half the people running you over are people you’ve seen other places in the community. This one picks up his kid from school sometimes the same time I get The Boy 7. I already know from that, he’s not someone I want to mess with.

If I could wear a sign it would say this, “It is not necessary that you pass me right now. In a moment there will either be a better opportunity or your perceived need will pass.”

Speaking of communities this size, when I was out on the prairie this morning I saw a progressive. I sort of thought I’d seen him once before in the area, but there was no doubt THIS time. I didn’t even know he lived around here.

Full-face-helmet-guy and I continue to hold each other accountable in the mornings. It’s not the same ride when he’s not there. Another guy has joined the fun. I’d seen him a couple times in a row in the evening, and found him this morning too. Welcome to the fun, purple-shirt-guy!

This guy experienced the pleasure of a MinusCar sighting on Monday.

Report: October 24-30

Trips -
MinusCar: 8
Multi-occupant Auto: 12
Single occupant Auto: 4

I made a lot of car trips this week. The temperature and time change makes it unreasonable to pick up The Boys at the end of the day by bicycle. On my pickup days I ride home, get in the car and pick everybody up.

With the weather change I’ve suffered my first cold of the season. Mostly I’ve been riding through it, but early in the week between two very short nights, I drove to work.

My Car Miles: 56
My Bike Miles/Hours: 86/6.6

Morning Temperature Lowlights
10/24 – 27 degrees, wind CALM

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Is It Warm in Here or is it Just Me?

This morning I encountered a co-worker on my way into the building. We exchanged customary greetings and acknowledged that I had, yes again, ridden to work. I mentioned that if the weather says like this I’ll be in good shape for riding all winter. He suggested that if the weather stays like this “we’ll all believe in global warming.” Heh, heh, he’s not aware of my (this) dirty little secret.

Coincidentally I was checking out the “Watershed: The Blog” blog and found this interesting post on the long range winter outlook. There’s a 55 to 60% chance that our winter temperatures will be warmer than usual. Imagine that. And you just have to love the quote from NOAA Administrator Lautenbacher, we’ll have “boughts of winter.” So, this is what it’s come to, Spring, Summer, Fall, and boughts of Winter.

And finally, Sunday’s issue of the local daily included a whole page about global warming. Two articles from the Seattle Times, three graphs, one diagram, and one photo of a former scientific skeptic perched like “The Thinker” on a globe. This quote adorned the top of the page, “The most important thing to realize is that most scientists didn’t originally believe in global warming. They were dragged – reluctant step by step – by the facts.” – Spencer Weart, science historian. Special thanks to Seattle Times writers for giving the local daily the necessary words, because if it makes our paper that means word is spreading.

Which brings me to The Offical MinusCar Project slogan: “Enjoy global warming. It won’t last long.” You heard it here first.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Those Pesky Curbs

A green Taurus Wagon from county 61 had a little trouble this morning with a curb. So did a white Pontiac this afternoon. Today: a very special cars vs curbs episode of The MinusCar Project.

There is a hill on my route to work. It’s a pretty steep hill. It’s steep enough that riding it knocks my speed down to 6mph. (I like to come here for interval training.) The speed limit on the road is 30 or 35 which puts most cars in the 40mph range. My personal quad-factor risk calculator (40% speed of vehicles, 40% speed of bicyclist, 10% width of road, and 10% volume of vehicles) puts this particular stretch of road in the red zone. I use the sidewalk to avoid inconveniencing a large number of fast moving vehicles.

This morning, just as I was transitioning from sitting to standing on the pedals, a car came by me scraping two tires on the curb. The sidewalk here is directly adjacent to the road, there’s no grassy strip of separation, this vehicle was remarkably close as it went by. It’s possible, but probably (hopefully?) unlikely, that this driver was trying to teach me (by risking my life) a lesson about bicycling not being a safe activity, especially near traffic.

The irony is that if I assume the best in this driver, the potential for disaster only goes higher. Perhaps the driver didn’t mean to come in contact with the curb. Perhaps they were distracted for a moment by a phone call or the newspaper, or their spilling cup of coffee. Or maybe they were shaving, and smoking and eating a doughnut and then their phone rang. When the driver is teaching me a lesson it’s clear that the driver knows I’m there and a conscience and relatively controlled decision is being made. When the driver is distracted disaster is avoided only by chance. The driver may or may not restore their attention to driving, and may or may not have time to restore control of the vehicle before it hops the curb.

The legal repercussions between the two are unsavory too. If the driver is teaching me a lesson they can, for better or worse, be tried for assault with a deadly weapon. Scenario two is an accident. Clearly the driver didn’t mean to lose control of their vehicle while eating a doughnut, reading the paper, and taking a phone call resulting in the accident. Heck, the judge probably reviews cases and talks to mom each morning during his drive to work. Really, that’s normal car culture morning commute behavior.

And then...

This afternoon while I waited at a red lighted intersection another car came in contact with the curb. Coincidentally it’s the same intersection that appears in the eighth post of this blog. I didn’t see the whole thing but this car appeared to have been forced to the curb as a result of another drivers errant lane change. The curb blew out the front tire as the lane changer continued on their way, seemingly oblivious to the wake of destruction.

Why is it that stories like these are always used as examples of how dangerous bicycling in traffic can be? Can't they just as easily be turned around and used as examples of how dangerous driving is?

115 peopled died every day in 2004 in traffic related accidents. Today's news today: "Harrisburg crash victims were best friends, Police: Sioux Falls driver also killed after teens swerved"

A Civil Exchange

I used this service to have a dialog with city officials this week.


I commute to work by bicycle. I have been since June. My intent is to continue this bicycle commute through winter. I live on the ##### side of town and work in the ##### part of town. I use the bike trail at ##### and ride that and the dike (##### ) to cross the river at the ##### bridge. I then use the bike trail between ##### and the #####.

As the temperatures get colder I become more and more interested to know if there is a bike trail snow clearing policy or directive. I'm also interested to know if I'll be lucky enough that the dike between ##### and ##### will be cleared.

I'd be very appreciative if you address these concerns. Thank you.


The Parks & Recreation Department does clear the bike trail of snow during the winter. However, during a snow event I have to send my park employees to the Street Department to assist with snow removal of city streets. The bike trail is the last area of the park system to have snow removed and it could be days before we are able to get to this task depending on how long my employees are assigned to the Street Department.

We do not remove any of the snow on the levee on the westside of the river between ##### and ##### street.

Park Operations Manager
##### Parks & Recreation Department

##### - specific route details have been omitted. The Internets are dangerous places.

Report: October 17-23

Trips -
MinusCar: 7
Multi-occupant Auto: 4
Single occupant Auto: 0

My Car Miles: 2
My Bike Miles/Hours: 90/6.57

Morning Temperature Lows
10/20 – 30 degrees, wind NNE 6, windchill 24 degrees

Monday, October 24, 2005

Viewed Media: October 14-20

10/17 – (dvd) Deadwood: First Season Episodes 5-7 (****)

No surprise, this is still great TV. I went searching for the Deadwood naughty word counts on the Internets. I found them here (caution: contains naughty word counts). Still, for scripting and characters it’s tough to imagine a better show.

10/19 – (book) A Hatful of Seuss: Five Favorite Dr. Seuss Stories (****)

I read this one aloud with The Boy 7 over the course of a few days. It was pretty great to hear him respond “He’s right” when we got to the money line on our way through Horton Hears a Who. “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Not being a person of large stature himself, he probably knows a thing or two about it. The darn liberal media was cranking it out way back in 1954 already. We’ll watch Bill O’Reilly tonight for balance.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New Morning

Anybody Seen My Legs?

They were here this morning. I must have left them behind when I transformed from worker bee to super commuter. Ugh! The ride home yesterday just wasn’t much fun.

I blame it on the over consumption of the cream cheese/cherry pastry someone brought to work. Well, actually it was probably a combination of that and the cinnamon rolls someone else brought to work. I would have made the Fat Cyclist proud. I never had a chance to even sample the fresh baked banana bread that someone else brought to work. Food at work…it’s an issue. I shoulda skipped lunch.

Not only did I have bad legs, before I realized I had bad legs I had already taken extended loop option A. By the time I arrived at extended loop option B my brain had apparently disengaged and I took option B while somewhere I heard a distant echoing voice suggesting I not do this. Or was it Obi-Wan suggesting I use the force?

Full brain disengagement occurred somewhere in the Neighborhood of Spaghetti Streets when I found myself off my route on a road I hadn’t seen before, going a direction that isn’t on the compass. I think there was a car in the way where I normally turn and I didn't feel like quibbling about it.

A few minutes later I put in a call to The Wife (Coach?). “I’m going to be later than usual; I’m not riding very fast.” Pick it up, she said. You’ve got time, she said. Dinner won’t be ready for another 15 minutes, she said. Uhhhh…I’ll be at least 25, I said.

At this point I was able to at least settle into a rhythm…and then this:

This is a wind speed graph. There’s a small uptick around 6pm from breezy to Rita. Yeah that was a head wind.

And then things started to feel abnormally bouncy. And then things started to feel abnormally squishy. And then I flatted. And then I called The Wife again. I mixed up a healty batch of metaphor and cliché and told her when it rains it goes from bad to sour. I sat there by the river with 67 mosquitoes and fixed the tire.

I made it home. Just in time for the departure of The Wife and The Boy 3. Bye. Just in time too, for some sweet and sour and cold meatballs.

I’m MinusCar guy, and I’m just happy to be home.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Report: October 10-16

Trips -
MinusCar: 12
Multi-occupant Auto: 4
Single occupant Auto: 1

Woo hoo! Often the best I hope for is one or two more MinusCar trips than auto trips. This week came up unusually high. I ventured out for lunch most days this week giving me 3 MinusCar trips. Sunday helped too with the ride to church and a night ride (nights happen really early these days) with The Boy 7 to the neighborhood stop-n-rob for some milk and candy bars. Night rides are more fun!

KT accepted my invitation to a Saturday meeting. The single occupant trip was between home and his house to ride together to the meeting. This also accounts for the miles on my car this week.

My Car Miles: 16
My Bike Miles/Hours: 145/9.6

Morning Temperature Lows: Morning temps were generally in the 40 range which is chilly but not remarkable enough to track or report.

MinusCar Hits the Road

A local adult Sunday school class is following these FaithLink study guides. It’s a guide that “not only motivates Christians to consider their personal views on important contemporary issues, it also encourages them to act on their beliefs.” The important contemporary issue for today was American’s love affair with the automobile, and I was there as a show-and-tell to hopefully offer a little something in the form of encouragement.

I offer a short description and criticism of the study guide below, but first it is necessary to mention how cool it was to sit with a group of people and dialog about many of the ideas found within this blog. The move from cyberspace to realtime/realpeople was refreshing. That this could happen on a Sunday morning was greatly encouraging as well.

Of course, not everyone was comfortable with the topic. It’s highly likely none in attendance will begin riding a bicycle for utility, and I’m just guessing but I’m pretty sure there was at least one SUV driving mom with two or three kids amongst the small group in attendance. I’ve been used to that discomfort for a long time now…it takes me back to the the time my friend and riding buddy arrived to meet me for lunch…alone…in his Ford Expedition.


The study guide began with cars and “The American Love Affair.” It segued quickly into the similarities and differences between Katrina and Rita, and “Class and Access” and who has cars (relatively rich) and who doesn’t (relatively poor). It moved from there to the high cost of gasoline and finally to a lengthy description of the (somewhat?/relatively?) bold “What Would Jesus Drive (WWJDrive)?” campaign.

Unfortunately the guide ended by letting readers off the hook with a sidebar on the back page that contained statements from the guide authors describing how taking public transportation to their jobs would be unreasonable for them.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Viewed Media: October 7-13

10/9 – (dvd) Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets (**)

Those kids do a pretty nice job. The best part about catching up on HP is that I’ll get to go to the next one as a date with my wife.

10/8 – (theater) Wedding Crashers (****)

This is a very funny movie for all the wrong reasons. Whatever Owen Wilson has, he’s got it good.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Winter Route & Bikes Everywhere?

As I begin to anticipate snow and the likelihood that my normal route to work will go unplowed I’ve begun to consider alternative routes to work. Today I pretty much settled on a new route, entirely on road, to get to work. It’s a half-mile longer than my preferred route. It’s has an advantage over my preferred route because instead of facing a 10-minute exposed leg directly into an artic wind, I get to vary north and west directions and be amongst the relative coverage of homes, trees and buildings. Additionally, I get 2 or so miles at the end of the ride with that north wind on my back.

I reversed the route at the end of the day for the trip home and found it much less enjoyable. At one point I braced for what sounded and felt like a truck about to drive up my back. It’s a fast road…well it has a reasonable but ignored speed limit.

The highlight of the trip home was passing three cyclists. I’m not talking about seeing three cyclists I’m talking about actual, “on your left,” passing. And I’m not talking about the local bike path; I’m talking about on the road. Quite cool. Two of the three were local cycling personalities: GGGGarth and a guy with a trailer with a traffic control barrel overturned for carrying goods.

Did you know? “More bicycles than cars were sold in the United States over the past 12 months.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Inspiration From the Internets

It's been a good day for discovering inspirational and informative articles on the art of bicycle commuting.

First up - today I was performing my customary daily palm pilot reading of my blog friends while on the toilet. It's only a matter of time before the thing gets flushed. Seriously.

Oil Is for Sissy's posted and lightly ranted about an article by Rivendell bicycle founder Grant Petersen. If you go to the post you should also read the comments, there are some very good ones. To Grant Petersen, regarding your first five opinions I say: bring it.

Petersen's thoughts on clothing are very intriguing. Essentially, wear clothes similar to the drivers that pass you. If you look like a bike geek they'll run over you, if you look like their cousin Larry they will treat you better. That's an interesting bit of psychology that hadn't occurred to me. Unfortunately I quickly dismiss it as not practical for me, I haven't looked but I assume I’d be unable to find wind/water proof dress pants.

I love this quote: "Riding never gets easier, you just go faster..." I first saw it attributed to Greg LeMond in a Mt Evans or Mt Washington Hill Climb ride report. It has replayed in my mind often.

Second up - Cornerstone Life highlighted this Dirt Rag article.

I had a hard time limiting my quoting, the second last paragraph is so poetic - "...making the new day essential, provoking, a nectar rather than a waste-treatment. This is about lifestyle, around which the physical act of cycling must inevitably whirl. It can be DIY, it can be embellished with chemicals, it can be stricken with poverty or uplifted with dirty money, but its foundation is always grease, dirt and blood. And personal success will only be sweeter if a crooked finger is kept on actual satisfaction, the sheer endorphin of experience that defines and galvanizes what you love to do, even if living it is a hard road."

And the last bit describing the reaction of an inquisitor upon learning the distance of a bicycle commute - "There is always a pause after this, as if my interlocutor is trying to envision that distance, followed by an involuntary assessment of their current physical condition based on how they felt after climbing a flight of stairs at the mall recently, following a hearty round of Cinnabon sweet cakes." Yep, that was the barista at my coffee shop Monday.

Woody in the News

If you’re like me and you didn’t know something noteworthy was going to happen on David Letterman’s show last night you can go here to find a partial accounting of Letterman’s chat with Woody Harrelson from last night.

Apparently Harrelson has been living a sustainable existence with his family in Hawaii for the past five years.

McASP: October 10

This has not been a good week for my stocks. Everything is down big, including ENER losing 21% from its price.

Here is an article about Energy Conversion Devices work toward viable hydrogen powered vehicles.

Company | Stock | Net Gain | Percent Gain
DayStar Technologies | DSTI | -36.54 | -17%
Energy Conversion Devices | ENER | -68.11 | -21%
Evergreen Solar | ESLR | -39.04 | -13%
Spire Corporation | SPIR | -36.20 | -16%

Report: October 3-9

Trips -
MinusCar: 8
Multi-occupant Auto: 7
Single occupant Auto: 1

The single occupant trip was a rainy day trip to the park-n-ride. It was nice to see that the lone red car is still parking and riding.

My Car Miles: 9
My Bike Miles/Hours: 115/8.6

I had a good week for being the coldest week in a very long time. The temperature will go a lot lower than it did, but many winter mornings will be quite similar to what I experienced October 6th and 7th.

Morning Temperature Lows
10/6 – 35 degrees, wind NW 29, windchill 22 degrees
10/7 – 30 degrees, calm

Viewed Media: October 1-6

10/1 – (audiobook) America: The Audiobook (***)

There were plenty of good laughs here, but I have a feeling watching The Daily Show is a fine substitute. I got the book because I don’t watch The Daily Show. I found all the snarky humor I expected.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Future of Employment

As cubicle size continues to shrink The Boy 3 begins to prepare for the future...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Condemnation of LA

These are exciting times if you’re in any way connected to Lance Armstrong. These are especially exciting times if you’re connected to Lance Armstrong and you’re one of the people steamrolled when you didn’t measure up to the Lance standard.

So it might be with Prentice Steffen, a former USPS doctor let go prior to 1999. Here are some Dan Osipow thoughts published by VeloNews on Thursday: “Prentice joined our team as an inexperienced EMT doctor…he continues to want to speak about us and jump and down about us, and clearly he has an audience and a platform. But within our team, when Prentice speaks it doesn't mean anything. Prentice is a non-issue."

A Prentice Steffen interview was published Thursday in L'Equipe magazine. In the interview Steffen enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame by expressed his thoughts on Lance being a doping cheater, and also on the high likelihood of there being a large percentage of professional cyclists that dope.

Apparently an over anxious Steffen failed to consider how his statements might affect the people he’s currently working with. Steffen is the team doctor for a developmental cycling team TIAA-CREF. This team is unique in that central to its existence is its desire to prove to its young cyclists that you don’t need to dope to win in professional cycling.

On one had you’ve got a team founded on the hope that professional cycling success can be had without dope. On the other you’ve got the team doctor saying professional cycling success is not being had without dope.

Prentice Steffen issued a retraction and apology today. This wasn’t the usual non-apology apology that we’re so accustomed to seeing. This is a real life acceptance of responsibility. I attribute the uniqueness of this apology to my belief that lots of people involved in professional cycling are in fact actual humans.

Here is the statement.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Me & Idiot Driver #2

I'm very surprised this is only the second time I've been able to post about bad experiences with drivers. When I started this I expected there would be a much higher frequency.

While I was walking to lunch today a driver expressed his concern for my safety from the comfort of his 4,000 pound heated metal cage. As I was crossing a street (27,000 cars per day – yeah, I found a new data source) from behind me I think I heard “people have gotten killed doing things like that.” By “things like that” I think he meant just plain old crossing the street which is exactly true. Thanks for the tip.

I’ve posted about posing a challenge to drivers before. Walking confidently and sometimes asserting my pedestrian rights. This incident was odd because I in no way perceived that I had posed any sort of challenge to him.

I stood there in the street and applauded him for his fine performance. As he drove away I quickly finished crossing the street as my walk signal ran out.

Drawing Lines, Lowering The Bar

This week is a very important week for me. If I'm not riding when it’s 40 degrees then I won’t be riding when it’s 30 degrees. And if I'm not riding when it’s 30 there’s no way I'll be riding when it’s 20. These three temperature points make a pretty good summary of yesterday, today and tomorrow. So far, I’m feeling really good about the coming winter.

Here are a couple things about the changing season I’ve been pondering as I ride:

What Not To Wear – I’m a geek, I have a spreadsheet that I keep for cold weather rides. I record temperature factors, what I wore (feet, hands, head, legs, torso), and my perceived comfort levels. I’m working hard to train myself to wear less to minimize sweat. Too much sweat means riding home in wet clothes which seems fraught with danger.

Where Not To Ride – I’m experimenting with alternate routes to work. As I experiment I’m imagining what the roads would feel like if they were icy. I’m also preparing a personal petition to city government. Part of my normal commute includes a gravel dike. If it doesn’t get plowed this winter the most direct alternate routes to work include 40,000 car roads. There are other less direct routes with fewer cars but less direct has new meaning when it’s 0 degrees out.

In The News: Fight!, DM, and SUV's

Portland, OR - after many months of reading and hearing from various sources about all the wonderful things about Portland I finally found something that shows that they are human after all...

"Angry drivers call ‘bike safety’ an oxymoron - ‘Bad apples’ whip up tension on both sides of the windshield"

They even use the term scofflaws.


Des Moines, IA - Des Moines is getting into the bikes/busses act.

"The nearly $50,000 program will equip 80 buses with racks for two bikes each."

Cool! I wonder what my city spent to equip 30(?) busses with the same. Oh, and 16,000 passengers ride daily in Des Moines, 200 ride daily here.


All Over, USA -

Explorer, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator - minus 50%
Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe - minus 50%
GMC Yukon - minus 46%
Cadillac Escalade - minus 23%
Escalade ESV - minus 40%
Hummer H2 - minus 32%

Oh, and Ford made the finaly Excursion last Friday.

I read it here first.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Passenger Data: September 28 – October 4

10/4 – 5p – Work to Station – 3 aboard
10/4 – 1p – LBS to Work – 5 aboard, 1 pickup
10/4 – 12p – Work to LBS – 14 aboard, 1 pickup, 3 drops
10/4 – 8am – Station to Work – 3 pickups
9/28 – 8am – Station to Work - 2 pickups

There aren’t very many people riding the 8am route from the new bus station.

The 10/4 12pm ride, not quite a record, was very full.

I picked up The MinusCar Bike Project on the 4th. I departed the LBS, frame in hand, and headed for a nearby restaurant for lunch. As I walked in the door I realized I was heading into a new experience.

Most people at restaurants have back seats and trunks. These are convenient places to store groceries, shopping bags and bike projects. I needed to bring my goods inside. This is highly unusual behavior. Most people inside settled for looking at me curiously. One man in line suggested the bike (just a frame) was going to be tough to ride if that was all there was. I shrugged his comments off and left his group and the cashier to finish their conversation about me. At that point I wasn’t necessary anyway.

Following that the frame accompanied me on two bus trips. Upon boarding my half expectation that I would be denied a ride because bikes aren’t allowed on busses (they’re not) went unrealized. They were difficult trips in that I had a backpack with bike parts, the frame, and an umbrella. I felt an intense need to be very careful to not poke any eyes out as I boarded and departed the busses.

The Wife was right, I should have gotten a smaller umbrella.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

McASP: October 3

The portfolio performed pretty well this week. Daystar Technologies continues to lag the others. It lost 10% this week. The other three each gained more than 10% which gives the whole group a $63 gain.

On Friday Piper Jaffray "initiated coverage" on Evergreen and Energy Conversion Devices. While this won't necessarily make the stock price go up, I take it as an indication that analysts are taking an interest in the alternative energy sector.

Company | Stock | Net Gain | Percent Gain
DayStar Technologies | DSTI | -42.30 | -16%
Energy Conversion Devices | ENER | 45.43 | 17%
Evergreen Solar | ESLR | 39.36 | 15%
Spire Corporation | SPIR | 21.40 | 11%

Monday, October 03, 2005

Report: September 26-October 2

Trips -
MinusCar: 9
Multi-occupant Auto: 6
Single occupant Auto: 2

Single occupant trips included a rainy drive to the park-n-ride and a morning trip to the grocery store for milk.

My Car Miles: 44
My Bike Miles/Hours: 93/7.3

The car miles were previously detailed here. I recently discovered (what I should have realized) that there is good access to the dentist via the bike trail as well. That would have been a very nice ride for us, with him on the trail-a-bike. I really screwed that day up.

So far the weekly bike miles aren’t going to get me very close to 10,000 miles for the year. Right now I’m at about 4,500 miles. I'm going to try to raise that average this week.

Is It A Resturant? A Grill? A WHAT?

As I rode to do the bicycle pick up of the boys at the end of the day today I found myself enjoying the pleasant aroma from the grill of a nearby restaurant. "Hmmm...wind's blowing just right today." A block later I enjoyed the pleasant aroma of grilling from a nearby residence. "Hmmm...somebody’s going to enjoy themselves some grilled vittles tonight." A block later I became alarmingly conscious that I had been enjoying the exact same scent of grilling for an unusually long period of time.

Not 15 seconds later I discovered the source. It was waiting at the intersection for a green light emblazoned with a sticker inviting readers to visit Yes, this was a vegetable oil fueled diesel Mercedes Benz automobile.

I have gotten a whiff of the the future and it is the smell of grilled meat. I’m imagining a day when I can sit in traffic waiting for a green light and be surrounded by the smell of hamburgers. Or better yet, maybe they’ll figure out how to alter the scents. I’d like nothing better than to have the next smelly 1973 F-150 I get behind at 7am remind me of sausage.

(vittles is not actually part of my everyday lexicon.)

(lexicon is also not actually part of my everyday speechification.)

A Remarkable Day

This morning I tossed the MinusCar Bike frame and fork into the trunk and headed off to work.

Ha! I fooled you! This morning I bungied the MinusCar Bike to my backpack and headed of to work on my bike. It’s true, I’ve been inspired by stories like this from the Oil/Sissies guy.

On my way I noticed a guy camped out under a tree along the river on the edge of shopping central. He was rubbing his eyes, just waking up. Good morning!

For lunch I successfully delivered the bike to the LBS for removal of crank arms, pedals, headset, steer tube races, and cable routing devices. Interestingly the shifter mounts appear to somehow pierce the downtube. It’s not clear what anchors them in place. It is clear that removal of them would leave a hole through the frame. My Pal Pel thought maybe he could find some covering caps to neaten it up a bit. I can only hope the caps come in the form of bones or skulls. Yeah!

It was very nice to finally be rid of the weight of the extra bicycle as I headed to Staples. I purchased two ink cartridges and was pleased-nay-surprised to learn from the cashier that I was due a ream of paper for each ink cartridge purchased. We shared a mutual laugh as we both knew I’d be carrying it on my back. “Do you want them?” she asked. “Yes…NO!..of course.”, I replied. It’s the good stuff too; HP brand paper. One ream is 5.5lbs.

Next was Best Buy for some headphones followed by KFC for two original snackers with BBQ sauce. To go. Then back to work.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Viewed Media: September 23-29

9/29 – (dvd) Sideways (***)

This one made a lot of people’s yearly best lists. It was good. It was original. It was even generally entertaining. But I’m not sure I was convinced of its “best of” status.

9/30 – (dvd) The Love Bug (**)

It is the classic. Before checking with IMDB I guessed this move was made in 1977. I sure was surprised to find a 1968 date attached. What a surprise! Special thanks to Disney for introducing suicide in the form of Herbie trying to throw himself off a bridge.

Report: September 19-25

Trips -
MinusCar: 10
Multi-occupant Auto: 2
Single occupant Auto: 0

Because of a road trip with my wife and friends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday aren’t reflected in this report.

My Car Miles: 1
My Bike Miles/Hours: 100/7

The one mile was to school and back to pick up The Boy 7. The Boy 3 was with me. I’m really torn on whether this is a justified trip or not. It’s seems pretty sad that we couldn’t just walk this, but then 1 mile for a three year old is pretty far, and we’d probably be late for the pick up. Sigh.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The MinusCar Bike Project. Go.

It turns out that ramming the racing bike into the garage with the car (like I did in August) isn't good for precision crafted Cannondale HeadShocks. The Cannondale factory has confirmed what I already knew after half a lap racing the 24 Hours Of Afton. The lousy feel of the bike was due to a bent thingamajig, and the thingamabob ain't looking so good either.

Bottom line - full frontal replacement is necessary. There's a slight chance they'll be able to match the new shock with the bike's existing paint scheme. By slight chance I mean no possible chance whatsoever.

What' s a guy to do? Get a carbon Lefty that doesn't have to match? I'd rather buy a $700 bike than spend $700 for half a fork. Replace the complete bike and buy a Rush? Something will die in me the day I purchase a full suspension bike. The correct answer is paint the whole bike.

The MinusCar Bike Project has begun. The new paint scheme will be the official MinusCar paint scheme, including MinusCar logo, MinusCar slogan and MinusCar URL. By the way, I have ideas for a logo but not enough graphic talent. Help?

Today I started work on the practice bike:

This is a very old Cannondale road bike that I got from a friend for a very good price. I've been planning to turn it into a road single speed. I'm going to practice on this.

First step, make the frame naked. I was surprised to find Suntour Edge components on the bike. You won't find them in a bike store near you. The cranks, shifter mounts, and cable routing devices remain attached. I need to consult with the consultants for removing them.

The Boy 3 helped.

Friday, September 30, 2005


I wrote about it here.

Today I realized I didn't link to it.

I'm linking to it here: Balancing the Universe on a Wheel

Thank you.

Uh Oh, It's the Missus!

The Wife discovered the blog. Not that it was a big secret, but the right stars aligned and she spent some time reading today. Welcome, The Wife.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Viewed Media: September 16-22

9/16 – (dvd) Racing Stripes **

This is a movie the whole family can enjoy. The Boy 7 practically became part of the show by the end. Two stars because the first half felt a lot like they taped the actors reading the script for the first or second time and called it a wrap. By the end the story redeemed the movie by overtaking that annoyance.

9/17 – (dvd) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith ****

Four stars probably aided by the fact that this was clearly, far and away, the best of the first three Star Wars movies. Anakin spent much of the movie looking for something, part of the time I suspected it was a good script he was seeking. But seriously the show stands by itself as a very good movie. Maybe all the effort of the other two could have been combined into this one and saved lots of people a lot of time and a lot of money.