Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Faith | Hope | Love | 2009

I have very little faith in the economy.

I have very little hope in politicians.

I am not afraid and I no longer worry.

Welcome 2009. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

1,000,000,000 | Wall*E

The first time I saw Wall*E I understood that the movie is about what we might look like in the future - what with the bone atrophy and the uninhabitable planet. They were buried under their own garbage and left the planet. At least we know we'll never get that bad.

Maybe we are that bad - I'm starting to think about the movie more and more within this context.

In their race to grow the economy to continue to enrich the already richest 10% of the planet - banks found themselves holding more toxic paper than they could contain. Many ordinary folks have lost their primary investment - their homes.

In their race to supply the energy necessary to continue to enrich the already richest 10% of the planet - the Tennessee Valley Authority found themselves holding more toxic sludge than they could contain. Many people have lost their homes - or their homes are uninhabitable.

Interestingly I found a Popular Mechanics article indicating that new regulations dis-allowed the release of this waste into the atmosphere. Apparently instead it's gathered in sludge ponds to be released into the rivers after accumulation of 1,000,000,000 gallons. Civil disobedience?

I wonder how long it will take Wall*E to clean up 1,000,000,000 gallons of sludge from 400 acres of land - and how long after that it will be before the first plant sprouts through the damage - and how long after that the first probe reports back that we can re inhabit the land and start growing pizzas again.

One thing is for sure - toxic waste flows down hill.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Get Out

My day began with the Coffee Doughnut Ride. I met the guy with all the G's and the B's in his name at 8am sharp. We didn't mess around too much with waiting for the Hooterville Mayor or touring the crunchy frozen streets - we selected the Phillips Ave Diner as our destination and pretty much went straight away there. I think 10 was the number of degrees in the air at the time but the NW wind was making them hard to hold on to.

We each enjoyed a 2+2+2, links for me, bacon for he. Our server claimed to be a 75 to 100 mile a week roller. Mostly hybrid miles but she found herself a Gunnar on the internets at the end of summer. She likes riding enough to have a trainer. She likes having a trainer enough to complain about having one.

The bikes outside parked in the bike rack made from shoveled snow (that we were lucky enough to be seated by) garnered their fair share of curiosity as we covertly looked on over maple syrup infused pastry through tinted restaurant glass.

We chatted about the incredible difficulty found in crossing Western Ave between 41st and 49th Street - which brings up interesting ideas and thoughts about roads and habitat disruption and roads and human habitat disruption. Who's responsibility is it to be sure this human habitat remains human inhabitable? Apparently it's not the Tennessee Valley Authority. But that's for a future likely non-existent post.

After our ride blew apart into two distinct pieces I found my way back to Caribou Coffee where I was lucky enough to discover then end my ride with a festive chat with The Owner. I'd do that more often if I could. I rode seven more miles than start-time degrees, which makes for an interesting formula for minimum ride length requirements.

The afternoon featured a walk in the park. Literally.

It was still cold...

Some of us didn't seem to mind...

If you're the type of person that finds shades of grey pretty then you're the type of person who might find this photo pretty...

The Mom mentioned that The Great Aunt In Illinois indicated via Christmas card that she's a MinusCar Project reader. All I can say to that is...

Merry Christmas Runell.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It’s Like A Group Ride, With Tubistas

Some of the tubas even looked like the Hooterville Mayor's bike.

Recent research concludes that band students might suffer some hearing damage.

Ya think!

Have I ever told the story of the time I, as a Washington High cheerleader tangled with a Lincoln High band parent at Howard Wood Field? Of course I haven’t.

This is a family blog. I'm not even sure my family knows the story.

20 years provides me this perspective – the band parent was still wrong.

I stepped into the dark side today. I played a band parent – in real life. The Boy 10 began playing the baritone this year in school. Today was Tuba Christmas.

Tuba Christmas is a call to all tuba players: pay $5, rehearse for an hour, eat lunch, play three free afternoon concerts at three different venues. The Boy 10 was among a handful of 5th graders. I guess the oldest was 73. Many of the tubas looked 73.

They played many familiar Christmas songs. We sang along to Silent Night – well, once we found an octave that wasn’t waaaaay toooo loooow. At the end they wished us a “Merry TubaChristmas.”

Quite a satisfying day for a first time band parent. My role: carry the music stand and the sit stool. Hold the coat during the performance. Transport to next venue.

BUT - today the MinusCar Family participated in the Federal Highway Administration National Household Travel Survey. Did I mention there was a rehearsal and three concerts at three venues? And lunch?

I filled up the survey log and had to continue on a separate additional sheet of paper. That’s not how I imagined my log would look when I agreed a few weeks ago to participate.

Oh well - I guess the feds get to waste another year believing 0% of trips in Sioux Falls are taken by bicycle.


Sioux Falls singletrack discussion continues tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12/12/12 (photos)

Tomorrow I'm participating in the 12 Hours In Photo's photo project. See the invitation.

I'll probably live blog the day here from my cell phone, then combine the photos and copy them over there.

Friday, December 05, 2008

"The Race"

Bike riding feels like the wind
blowing in my cold ear

It sounds like a white wolf
howling at night

I see the big mountain
with my bright eyes

I taste victory
when I start a race

It smells like maple syrup in the sky


Jason Z. age 8 years
Matamoras, PA
Taking Care, 2008 December

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hello Alone

In the snow it's easier to tell I'm not riding alone.

Best Google search ever(?) - "who looked at Marty Sterzinger"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Weekend Update

Wednesday I described The Saturday Plan with some work mates. Upon running down the itinery:

Theodore Wirth Park
Central Library
Soo Visual Arts Center
Weisman Art Museum
The Soap Factory
The Guthrie Theater

- one freshly transplanted former Minneapolis resident thought simply driving from place to place seemed exhausting. That's the thing isn't it. Driving. It ruins a perfectly good day in a modern city. I recommend doing it without driving.

Google Maps : Directions : By Public Transit.

iTouch - load it up with .jpg's of the maps.

Cell phone - to call Metro Transit NexTrip.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Planning Hatches

The MinusCar Project was in full effect last week.

Bike miles - 81.9
Car miles - 26
Week's average high temperature - 36F

Wednesday was a particularly good day. 30 miles.

Meeting #1 - Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizen Advisory Committee - all in favor, "I". I learned about The City's pavement management program and watched a very familiar video about the new city bicycle facilities.

Meeting #2 - Museum of Visual Materials - are we still friends? Is Bike To Work Day 2009 still on your calendar? Can we start meeting in January? Affirmative. I can almost taste the pancakes.

Meeting #3 - well I ain't riding downtown at dinner time without stopping at Mama's Ladas and enjoying some of Mama's Ladas. It was a meeting with destiny.

Meeting #4 - Metropolitan Planning Organization Bicycle Planning Meeting - I'm not sure what's more important, developing a plan to connect all the nearby communities via on-street and off-street bicycle facilities or sitting in a room for a couple hours with planning administrators from all the nearby communities plus federal and state highway admins.

Friday - time off work for good behavior. Took the long route to the less than local multiplex and enjoyed a portion of Quantum of Solace before work decided my behavior hasn't really been all that good.

Saturday #1 - non bicycle related meeting that featured two riders even though there was an inch of fresh snow on the ground. I call the other rider The Dad, and I enjoyed accompanying him back home.

Saturday #2 - rolled into the annual lighting of The Falls event with three other well lit riders. Woot!

Sunday - how about some urban singletrack? Met with 10 guys tired of driving 40 minutes to ride on a poor crushed asphalt excuse for off-road dirt.

Get that? Reduce driving miles? Have a place to ride that's fun? Add value to the local cycling community? Plan stuff? Sounds like a job for - The MinusCar Project. I'm in. Engage. A plan is hatching.

If I don't see you before Thanksgiving I won't see you till December.

Ride your bike, drink some coffee, then ride your other bike.

Monday, November 24, 2008

“Let Families Decide"

…is the organized mantra for those opposed to the most recent South Dakota legislative solution to reduce or eliminate abortions.

This morning I was cut off by a fellow citizen. As I waited behind them at the red light queue, after briefly attempting to occupy the same space on the roadway, I took the opportunity to enjoy and ponder their vast array of informative bumper stickers. Apparently I share many of their political preferences. I terribly regret not getting a cell phone photo of the car for you dear reader.

I would like to point out however, that we seem to have sharply differing views on the need to clear frost from vehicle windows.

I suppose I just can’t fully understand the situation given that I simply blink and my windows become frost free. They were probably late for work and getting to that red light ahead of me may have seemed really important just moments prior.

As they pushed me out of my lane I keenly observed the completely frost blinded passenger side windows and understood I was out of sight and (probably) out of (my) mind. As I waited behind them and peered through the Venetian blind effect of the just recently activated rear window defrost I realized this truth…

I strongly support your right to choose for yourself how you clear frost from your windows – but at the same time I strongly urge you to please give your decision the thoughtfulness and gravity a life and death decision deserves.

I'm just saying.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

SatTEDday: Further Proof...

I found a TED Talk that offers further proof that minus is indeed the new plus.

In this "The paradox of choice" talk Psychologist Barry Schwartz argues the reality that more choice leads to less happiness. If you're like me you'll be shocked by the inner dissonance this grand statement brings - "the key to happiness is lower expectations."

The paradox is fascinating. One whose time has come. If you've got 20 minutes -

If you only have 6 minutes - The Boys really like this one (and I do to) -

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two More Working Days Till Monday

1. I think it's funny - every four years the news stories report the losing party in the presidential election is so far gone there's no hope for it to recover.

This is Sunday's news shows in 4 minutes. I can summarize that in eleven words.

How much trouble is the GOP in? None. Some. A lot.

2. The car culture is closer to dying than most anybody would have believed or imagined just one month ago. It's probably not going to go before the government wastes billions of my dollars trying to save it. Do I think we should let the big three go down? No, not without something to step in and take its place. There isn't something to take it's place. Why not?


There's still 67 days till inauguration. That should be enough time for this administration to piece together one single national automobile manufacturer. Let's call it ThePeoplesWagon - or something like that.

3. There have been a few articles decrying the possibility that our current economic downturn will have a very detrimental effect on efforts to mitigate climate change. I think they're wrong.

I think it's fallacious to think the best way to effect climate change is to spend more to consume more to use more energy to cut down on carbon emissions. Even if it is more fun that way. I think it's more likely that spending less, consuming less and using less energy is a more realistic solution. More painful. More realistic.

Ironically my vision of a climate change solution looks a lot like what some of the actual effects of climate change will bring - which I suppose is a strong argument against doing anything except...

...ironically the reality of the world today looks a lot like what some of the actual effects of climate change will bring...

...which I think means we actually are doing something, which I think proves my belief...


Lucky I don't have to run for office on this logic.

4. The Fat Cyclist is going to try to win the LiveStrong Challenge this year. He will form Team Fat Cyclist: Fighting For Susan and dollars donated to the LAF through his team will be credited to the team.

I'm going to participate. If you're reading this you should to. It all begins 12/1 - here's his preliminary descriptive post.

5. Kip Winger released a new album this fall.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

PSA: Local Bike Facilities

The City made a PSA about their new bicycle facilities. I recognize a few of the people in the video.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Today's C & D Brought To You... the letters B & G.

Sometimes I think we should just rename the ride to The Biscuits and Gravy Ride. Two hearty rollers joined me today. Between the two of them there were a whopping 5 g's and 2 b's in their names.

How could we not got for Michelle's B's and G's.

But we didn't go directly there. First we went north into the 16 degree windchill. We briefly toured Veteran's Memorial Park. Here The Mayor reads of one soldier's Medal of Honor deserving story of extreme bravery.

A little west and south and we discovered Michelle's hadn't moved from where it was two weeks ago, and the biscuits and gravy hadn't changed either.

Back into the cold we utilised the MUP as the group (such as it was) disintegrated and I found my way to Caribou for an actual doughnut and a newspaper whilst I awaited the arrival of The Family to begin the day's activities.

Today's route:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Make Like Pedestrian

Yesterday I walked to my favorite place for lunch and continued my reading way through "Traffic" by Tom Vanderbilt. He's blogger-iffic.

Today's topic was about driver inattentiveness. He wrote a bit about the "count the number of passes made by the black jerseyed team" video. If you haven't seen the video - why? You can Tube it here.

He also presented a demonstration that goes something like this. Think about the route you took to work this morning. There, did you notice? It's highly likely that when you began to remember your route to work this morning you looked away from these words. If you didn't, you're apparently exceptional.

MinusCar readers are, obviously exceptional. I am not exceptional, I did look away. Humans tend to divert attention when asked to remember something. Indeed eye movement appears to aid in memory recall. Imagine talking on the cell phone and being asked to remember something. Could it be this is one of the ways that cyclists seemingly appear out of nowhere?

It's great fun reading about this stuff and then immediately getting to observe similar behaviour. The walk to and from my dining destination includes negotiating two street crossings of a 50,000 vehicle per day intersection.

As I performed crossing #1 I received the all important eye contact from a right on red turning driver. Curiously she immediately looked away (red flag!) but remembered me long enough to not turn while I crossed in front of her.

As I waited on the curb and red light to make crossing #2 I enjoyed watching her itch, I say itch to make that right on red. Through traffic just wouldn't give her the gap she needed. She made another go/stop attempt as the signal switched to allow left only turns, but she wasn't quite quick enough to made that gap either.

Yes dear reader, I knew what was coming. I saw it on a Mannix rerun once.

Her light turned green as my walk signal came on. I stepped off the curb as she stepped on the gas pedal and for just a moment before I yielded we argued over the same piece of pavement.

(I've never watched Mannix.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fill 'er Up x6

I claim last year I filled up The MinusCar 7 times. I suppose the truth is I didn't really count all that carefully, but really, it's not like I make this stuff up. Here I am, 59 or so days left of 2008. Snow's coming, maybe as early as this weekend's coffee & doughnut run.

I've filled up 6 times this year.

Looks like I go roughly 40 days between fills, except for the summer's 62 day streak. I'm 59 days into my current almost empty tank. Once I do fill I'll need one more above average performance, only this time the weather doesn't figure to be so kind.

Makes me wish I could redo the month of February. I'm almost positive that big car mileage month was a matter of the cold driving down motivation.

Monday, October 27, 2008


After I saw ice this morning I saw The Dad on his bike riding to work. I got to chat with him.

I left work a tad early and headed north on the MUP for 30 minutes into a 12mph wind. Figuring at least 10mph bike speed the wind chill calculator says it felt something like 30 degrees. That's good practice for the coming months. Test the clothing now before it really means something.

For example, on the Coffee/Doughnut ride I discovered the arms out front position of my road bike makes my new -20 degree jacket ride up in the back. Crucial information to avoid some lower back frost bite later in the season.

I also wanted to see if the reconstruction was complete on that section of trail. For a couple months the MUP was being detoured through the fairgrounds. Now it's not. The trail is open. I bet the fairground director is getting all sorts of e-mails thanking him for opening the grounds for this detour.

While I was that way I gave myself a little short tour of Elmen Park Trailhead. Funds for this park were provided by the Elmen family. I believe the patriarch held a certain affinity for the MUP. There will be bike related ammenities at this park - already you can see an uncommon number of things to lean one's bike against.

There are two structures like this...

Some restrooms...

And a Daktronics sign...

That's right. A Daktronics sign. One can only imagine the weath of information that can be communicated by this thing. Hopefully it will say "please don't block the trail while you stand and read this very important message as it scrolls."

See that asphalt? That's the new stuff. Isn't it nice? You'd hate to have a big park grand opening, complete with a shiny new Daktronics sign flashing "grand opening" without redoing the really really bad asphalt that was there a couple months ago, wouldn't you?

I Saw Ice... Real ice. On the way to work. As far as I could tell it wasn't black.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

B & G Not C & D

This morning it was my turn to lead the FAB Coffee Doughnut ride. I didn’t know what to expect for attendance after I noticed the FAB Something For Everyone ride was merging then later splitting from my ride.

Complicating the estimated attendance factorizationing was four straight days of cloudy cold ret wainy weather. The TWC hourly forecast predicted an end to the rain by 3am and some actual sun for the morning. When you go to bed and it’s raining how could you possibly maintain your motivation wake up and recreationally ride a little bit?

As leader – I didn’t have much choice. I awoke bright and early (it was dark) and headed off to the meetup as the first rays of light were peeking above the horizon. The roads were still wet (possibly supersaturated) but the rain was gone.

Temperature: 35 degrees.

I was the first one there, and I waited patiently to see if I would be the only one attending. Within 5 minutes three others had joined me. I guess the roadies stayed home to watch Tour dFrance DVD’s from their rollers because there were no SFE riders there.

As the sun proper began to peek over the horizon we headed downtown to Michelle’s for some famous biscuits and gravy. By that I mean we went north for some then east a lot then south a bit then east a little more then north a whole bunch then west for some then a short bit north a short bit west and finally a short bit north again.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the wind was reasonable my feet were quite cold (conditioning for winter) and ready for some sweet sticky gravy.

We chatted. DW caught me up on the latest regional bike planning. Apparently the nearby communities really want bike trail connectivity to Sioux Falls. Apparently the idea of actually connecting to Sioux Falls by existing roadways was a new concept for some folks. That makes it a successful meeting in my book.

Roadlegs put out a challenge for me to map the ride. You got it RL!

It's raining again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm Falling


Last year I acquired a single speed road bike after deciding I wanted to participate in City Billy's Schnoctoberrfest. I'm sure there will be some recaps posted soon as the participants wake up.

I didn't go! Life is a series of choices, eh?

While The Boy 6 finished up his soccer season with The Grandma, the rest of The Family experienced a new non-consumptive activity - well except for the drive there. Life is a series of choices, eh?

We went here...

While Split Rock Creek bubbled happily nearby...

Our guide showed us what to do...

And we did...


And again...

I love fall...

Climbing at Palisades State Park.

Guide service from Sylvan Rocks.