Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bikin' to da bar -- Good Day Sunshine edition

Goodness me, what a beautiful day.

Biked to work and as passing over Crosstown and looking at the stopped traffic, all I could think was, "You're driving to work and I'm riding my bike on a beautiful morning. " Had a great day at work, if looking over Microsoft patches determining what is essential and creating a report is your idea of a good day. Typically finding Mickeysoft weaknesses is not what makes my day, but getting things done is getting things done.

Biked to da bar after -- gotta rinse the brain after a day of big sadness -- and I went the long way up a couple of hills just to get the blood pumpin'. Town Hall's newest is called WPA and it is a really interesting combination of wheat and hops, try it soon. Chatted with friends and had a bunch of people say that the Bleriot was a really good looking bike. Why, thank you all, so do I. Kudos, Jim.

Biking back in the twilight (or was it the gloaming, I can never tell) brought a bunch of nice Twin City biking experiences in one night on the Greenway:
  • a fellow in the other lane said I need a light (it was on the other bike, sorry, dude)
  • two people were moving from Mac-Groveland to somewhere on Blaisdell by bike. They were pulling bike trailers carrying boxes in one and a couch in another. Nice to see.
  • I passed a guy and we chatted on how nice the night was. Think about that the next time you shoot by someone in your car...
  • saw a woman who didn't need a headlight -- she was grinning so wide her perfect teeth just lit up the path around her. It was that kind of a night.
  • had a Minnesota argument on the path around Calhoun: two people were walking their dog in the bike lane, I mention that I'm coming up on them (slowly) and that they are in the bike lane and I'd hate to see them get hit. They thank me and say that they'd hate to see me fall off my bike. I wish all heated discussions were so friendly...
  • the path between Calhoun and Harriet need more lights
  • the Yamster has to put his front light on because the path from Harriet to home is really badly lit and my memory of the path doesn't help in the dark

Of course my batteries died in my camera, so I can't share the beauty of the night so you'll just have to use yer imagination...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Peddling his ass or giving it away?

Sorry, but I have to climb on the Larry Craig bandwagon (oh, did I really say that? Ew, sorry again...)

I have a question. What are the police doing in the airport bathrooms looking for cruisers? I mean, come on, that's so 1950 and we're supposed to be a gay-friendly city. Don't we have better things to do with our Homeland Security budget? Aren't there bicyclists to beat up? (Gotta keep the blog on topic, dontchaknow)

I don't care if he's gay, that isn't a sin as far as I'm concerned, but if he's trolling for bathroom sex and voting for "Family Values" anti-gay legislation then you are a hypocritical piece of shit, sorry. You deserve to have your trysts trotted out in front of everyone through the media. I love the smell of Schadenfreude in the morning.

What is it with closeted, gay Republicans? Is the illicitness of the act such a turn on? Are you guys really getting your jollies like this? I'm fat and not happy about it, but I can accept it and I'm dealing with it. Why can't you? Why do you cultivate votes form that intolerant swamp of voters?

Speaking of intolerant, here's the Idaho Values Alliance saying what a wonderful guy Larry Craig is for his vote against Stem Cell Research, or, in their words, "S. 5, which would have forced taxpayers to fund life-destroying resource on human embryos." But that's not what's so interesting; here's what is truly amazing -- look at the first of the "Bonus Bytes":
One of the tragic characteristics of the homosexual lifestyle is its emphasis on anonymous sex and multiple sexual partners. It is a little-acknowledged secret that many active homosexuals will have more than 1,000 sex partners over the course of a lifetime (the average among heterosexuals is seven – still six more than we were designed for). This sordid fact of homosexual life surfaced yesterday in an AP article yesterday that reports on the number of arrests police have made for indecent exposure and public sex acts in the restrooms at Atlanta’s airport, the busiest in the world. The increased restroom patrols, begun to apprehend luggage thieves, instead uncovered a rash of sex crimes. Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist. One such ad was from a man saying he was stuck at the airport for three hours and was looking for “discreet, quick action.” (AP: Arrests Up in Atlanta Airport Restrooms)


So, he's cheating on his wife and now people are screaming for him to retire. What about Vitter? He cheated on his wife with a whore, yet there's no cry for his head? What, you just apologize and then it's over? Or is there something a little deeper running here?

Update: looks like the good people of the IVA have decided to pull the plug on ol' Larry. Talk about fair weather friends.

Monday, August 27, 2007

August is winding down and autumn is on its way.....

...and I can't bloody wait. The trees, flowers and grasses around here look tired. The intense, bright green of new life in May, the deep healthy green of summer have now faded into an almost gray. The heat of summer and lack of rain has really taken their toll. Even the summer hasn't it's usual bite, or, as the Mrs said, "Even the hot is tired." Cycledog has the blues 'cuz he's suffering through an Okie August. Can't say that I blame him as this month has really been hard for me because I don't like humidity at all and my tolerance for heat has long been saturated. I'm grumpy and I want Summer to end and Mrs. Yam is worse than I am.

One of the sayings here is, "If you don't like the weather, wait an hour." Well the weather has been utterly bipolar in its mood swings as of late -- for the first two weeks it was like living in Bankok, then, as the temperatures dropped (thankfully), we moved across the Pacific to Seattle/Tacoma with rain, thunderstorms, showers, sprinkles, precipitation and drizzle. From no rain to floods. Mrs Yam and I were going to head to Southeastern Minnesota to do some hiking and camping in the State Parks, but the rain has caused a lot of flooding. The Northeastern part of the state is in a drought and Parks there don't allow campfires, so that's out (what fun is camping without a fire?).

We decided to go North to the Mille Lacs area and hike and camp Kathio, Father Hennepin, Savannah Portage, Crow Wing and Charles A. Lindberg State parks. We did Father Hennepin, Savannah Portage and Kathio on Saturday for a total of about twelve miles. On the way to Savannah Portage, we stumbled across a meadery in McGregor called Minnestalgia. These are the sort of things that make taking the back roads worthwhile. After 30 minutes of tasting and case of mead later, we continued on our trek.

Savannah Portage is the most Northern of the bunch and the trees were just beginning to change. A tree here and there was already in full autumn dress and others had branches with yellow or red. There was a different coolness in mornings, like the air knew it wasn't going to be stretched by the sun and the length of the day. I actually saw my breath Sunday morning. Apples and squash are replacing the radishes and peas. All point to a season that I await all year.

So, don't fret Cycledog, it's coming for you too. Hang in there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now we're talking

In yesterday's post, I mentioned looking for a recoilless rifle on a Big Dummy. It looks like, with a bit of ingenuity, we could possibly rig something like this up to an Xtracycle and we're in business.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Commuting necessities

  1. Hawaiian sling and spears with 12 "This driver is a DICK" streamers
  2. EMP generator
  3. Automatic paintball rifle/paintgrenade launcher
  4. Tire spikes
  5. Bike Snob NYC says we cyclists have Death Rays that shoot from our eyes -- I need to work on that...
  6. Others?

To do item: I need to get a Surly Big Dummy and mount a recoilless rifle on it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

One car?

Mrs Yam and I have tossed the idea of trimming down to one car. Why this would even be a radical idea is a story unto itself, but, even so, the thought tantalizes me. Doug in Duluth has been doing it for five years and he doesn't seem any worse for wear, and I am chapped that I spend $700 bucks to fix the brakes on one of our cars. I also need new tires on the other car. This is bullshit -- that money could have been spent on a super-excellent single speed winter commuter and clothes and enough left over to buy enough oatmeal to power the Yamster throughout the winter...

Continuing with the though process, do you sell both cars (both work fine) and get a different one? Keep one and sell the other? Drive 'em into the ground and not replace 'em? What to get? I am morally opposed to buying new cars unless you have the cash to pay for it up front because I'll be damned if I'm borrowing money and paying interest on something that loses value. Let someone else with the new car jones take the hit. I'd rather retire comfortably and drive used cars, thank you very much.

The Mrs and I do car camping, so something with a bit of space would be nice. Good gas mileage and reliability are essential. I'm thinking something like a little Mazda station wagon, but I don't have any really good ideas. I like the Honda Fit, but that's a bit small, methinks.

Anyone giving up a car? What are the pitfalls you've experienced? Any added benefits? I like the idea of the financial freedom -- no gas, maintenance or insurance costs -- that can be used for other things.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Creating congestion

Oh goody, more money is headed for "congestion relief" on our roadways. What does "congestion relief" consist of? Let us count the ways:
  1. More bus lanes downtown
  2. Turning Hennepin into a two-way street again
  3. "Priced dynamic shoulder lanes" - toll lanes on 35W from 46th to downtown
  4. Add a HOV lane/"priced dynamic shoulder lane" from 66th to 45th (both directions)
  5. Parking spaces for Park and Rides
  6. Shoulder expansion on Cedar for buses.

In creating parking spaces at park-and-rides, are they going to put in bike cages? Why do rich people get their own lanes? Are they going to spend any money on making the bus infrastructure better (better buses, better pay for drivers, more routes, etc.)?

What irks me the most about all of this is the HOV lane nonsense. Lemme see if I have this right; you are expanding the freeway through my neighborhood to add two more lanes to relieve congestion. Except when traffic is the heaviest you can't actually use the lane unless you pay or have a carpool. Minnesotans (and probably Exurbia in general) don't like to be with others (that's why they live in Exurbia) so I'll assume that no one will carpool because, if the HOV lanes on 394 are any indication, they aren't.

Adding lanes doesn't help traffic -- it just creates more traffic. Alternatives to driving are what is needed and nobody wants alternatives. I apologize to you southern suburbanites -- we're paving our neighborhoods as quickly as we can, but you keep buying bigger and bigger SUVs and we just can't keep up with the road building that you desperately need.

All I can hope is that the popularity of the light rail and it's greater than expected ridership may, just possibly, convince deepest, darkest suburbia to consider mass transit as a way to increase mobility without the continued creep, creep, creep of road building.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Me darlin' Mrs. has been working the Fringe Festival at a local venue. Problem is, she gets home late and I usually wait up. That makes getting up early enough to ride difficult (warning: lame-ass excuse), so we carpool. This morning was a beautiful 65 degrees, light wind, no cloud kind of morning and would have been perfect to ride. I'm going to pick her up for lunch and ride back -- in the 85-90 degree middle of the day.

I'm such an idiot.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Quick hits...

  • Mama Yam's last remaining sibling passed away this weekend. Much consoling and traveling to do. It's heartbreaking to hear your mother say, "I'm the last one..."

  • Haven't been riding much, the new saddle and I are still getting to know one another, though when I drive to work, I carpool with the Mrs. Still doing what I can to keep Greenhouse Gas levels down. I don't know if it matters though according to this.

  • Saw Spamalot last weekend. I'm not a Musical guy, I prefer opera. But it was funny and the songs were sung just a bit too dramatically and the music is a just over the top enough to poke the entire Musical genre in the ribs. Much better than the last one I went to -- the horribly cliché Wicked. I suppose if you like Disney movie music it could be your thing. It's certainly not mine.

  • So the President is promising money and help for the 35W river bridge. Here's the rule when dealing with Dubya: don't listen to what he says, watch what he does. And remember New Orleans. Oh, we'll get help -- we're lily white Minnesota and the Republicans are having their convention here next year. Wouldn't want to have that come up during their love-fest, now would we?

  • I'll post pictures of the Bleriot when I find all the parts of the camera. I have a digital camera, but I don't like it very much, so I don't use it all that often. When I do, Mrs Yam gives me the stink-eye for holding up whatever we're doing to take pictures. I do like the idea of carrying one around while commuting and getting shots of the interesting things you see on the way. Until then, sate yourself with this. Mine has fenders and is without the beautiful baggage or one of those spiffy HC water bottles...

  • Weighed in last night at Weight Watchers -- I'm now down over 25 pounds since I've started. I've also stopped having the indigestion and other related gastrointestinal difficulties since switching my eating habits.

  • I may have joined Weight Watchers, but I haven't given up beer. We've just gotten this into the liquor store where I work. I highly recommend trying some if you find it.

  • Go to a farmer's market and get some sweet corn NOW! It's in season and you should eat it while it's fresh. To grill corn:
    1. start the grill
    2. when the grill is hot, throw the corn on, husks and all
    3. turn the cobs when the husks scorch a bit
    4. when you smell roasted corn, pull 'em off the grill and let 'em sit a couple of minutes
    5. shuck and enjoy.
    I like mine with fresh lime and chili powder.

See ya after the funeral...

Friday, August 03, 2007

The empress arrives...

Oh goody, the First Lady is here to view the carnage through Paxil-and-Skyy-colored glasses. How helpful.

Update: Swell, Commander Cuckoo Bananas is coming here tomorrow. Since this place shuts down when his highness deigns to visit us with his security detail and all. Fly in, stand on some rubble, get a picture taken and look like you give a shit and then probably have a fund-raiser for soon-to-be ex-Senator Coleman, and then fly off leaving a snarled traffic mess and the tab for us, your grateful Great Northern subjects.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Biking to da bar - disaster edition

It's hot. I biked to Town Hall as I usually do on Odin's Dag, but today held a special event.

I was present for the collapse of the 35W bridge over the Mississippi river here in Minneapolis. I didn't see the actual structural failure, but I did see the bridge in the river minutes after it happened.

It is weird. It takes a couple of seconds to process that something that cataclysmic has happened. I saw the bridge, but I didn't conceive of just what had occurred. Probably a product of growing up with TV and looking at disasters that happened far away.

"Things like that never happen here."

Wise up, fat boy. Apparently, they do.

It's odd looking on death and destruction of such enormous scale. You are accustomed to small disasters, car crashes, building fires and such, but not the destruction of something that has stood your entire life. Something that doesn't even really register. It's always been there, you use it daily and never give it a second thought unless traffic is slow across it (which happens). It's part of life, the little thing you never sweat.

Until it disappears.

Then what? You look upon the destruction with disbelief, a detachment. Then, the connections. Holy shit, Mrs Yam has dance class in Nordeast tonight! She's on her way!

For the first time in my life, I felt a white flash of panic. The opposite of a gnawing feeling, but an attack like an ambush from a cougar. It was but a brief flash, but I know I never want to feel it again. I call her phone, no answer (nothing unusual) and leave a message.

After realizing that my wife could have been on that bridge, my phone rings -- but it's not me Mrs, it's my brother calls asking how we are. He's the family worrier -- he is last person that I needed to talk to right now. I tell him that I'm looking at the scene, that I'm on the bridge next to the one that collapsed and that I haven't heard from me Mrs. yet. He says that he'll get off the phone and pray for us.

Now, things start to sink in. I clear my head with facts: we know that traffic sucks on 35W, we've discussed alternative routes earlier today, there are limited lanes of traffic and that the odds of Mrs Yam being on the bridge are actually pretty small.

This is comforting. A deep breath and some thought tell me that I haven't really anything to fear. She'll call as soon as she hears of what has happened.

The phone rings and I notice with joy that it is me Mrs. She called to let me know that she's fine. She was on the on the 3rd St bridge about the time the river bridge collapsed. Dance class was starting, so we can't chat but I don't care. I'm freaking floating. She's fine.

My other brother calls (he'd talked to the worrier) and wanted to make sure that we're OK. I assure him and decide then I needed a smoke and a beer. Since the 12 mile ride from work to da bar pretty much dehydrated me, I was sipping water. No longer.

I sat outside and watched the traffic snarl, the emergency vehicles push their way through the crowded streets and listened to people gossip about which roads were closed. Considering the confusion, the size of the catastrophe and the ability of the typical Minneapolis driver, things went really pretty well. I saw emergency teams from Anoka and Eagan, Stillwater and Edina, Richfield and Roseville. A collapse building team from Dakota county, diver squads from all over, boats from cities that don't have bodies of water -- it was truly astounding. Minneapolis' finest showed up and the cops that were directing traffic did a really tremendous job.

Traffic sucked as I sat there with the other regulars and gave directions to how to get the hell out of where you were. I'm really glad I had a bike.

I got a call from my sweetie offering me a ride (the weather looked pretty threatening), but I said that she should just get the hell home and I'll fend for myself. It's so freaking hot, that a ride in the rain would be great.

No rain, but the ride home was great anyway. Waved through by the completely exhausted cop that had been there for three hours, I worked my way to the Greenway to the Lakes and home. I flew as there was no one on the paths.

I was happy to walk the dog with me Mrs. tonight.

Very happy.

Governor Paulenty Pawlenty will have a lot to answer for tomorrow. He had the bright idea to not keep up the roads due to his "No New Taxes" plan, and I think that his Vice Presidental bid will probably suffer for it.

Good. I hope his political future is crushed by that bridge.


More later, but in the mean time read Rick Perlstein and his coverage of the infrastructure of this country.

We need more bikes.

Updated: Here's what the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) thinks of our infrastructure.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Well, dress me up purty and call me Annie

A newspaper said nice things about dedicated bicycle paths and the people who ride on them. Perhaps in a century or two, they'll start calling for reduced spending on freeways.

Nah, don't be stupid...