Gone Fishin'


I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!


Christmas 2006

Kate and I weren't going to get a tree this year, but there they were yesterday, free trees at a local garden center- They must have cleared out the day before, leaving only a sign that stated "any tree, free" and a saw in the greenhouse for trimming. So into the skirack it went. This is me rigging up a stand, Ishmael testing the tree water for impurities, our Christmas cards, the finished treee with presents underneath, and Kate's prize for putting up with me and Montana for a whole year, a down jacket to keep her warm. This year was largely a Christmas by mail and phone affair, and we both miss our families and friends greatly. Tickets in and out of Missoula were prohibitive, and time off in a retail world this time of year is tough. Next year, though, Christmas on the OTHER side of the divide!


Here's to you, Mr. Self-Righteous Cyclist

Dear Mr. Self-Righteous Cyclist:

I saw you today at about 5:10pm at the intersection of Broadway and Ryman. You were pointed east, waiting to make the left onto Ryman, and performing an admirable trackstand behind the car in front of you, also waiting to go left. After that car found a gap and went, you continued your trackstand, while sporadically signaling that you intended to make a left turn eventually, when the lane was clear. You blocked traffic and the guy behind you yelled at you to get out of the way.

It was dark, you had no lights and no reflectors, and no reflective clothing to speak of, you were neither an amateur cyclist (as evidenced by the trackstand) nor were you homeless (as evidenced by the helmet, nice clothes and expensive-looking messenger bag. I will forgive members of those two groups their failure to use lights and act responsibly in traffic: amateurs don't know any better and homeless guys on bikes in the dark of a Missoula winter already have it tough enough. Further, members of both groups are recognizable as such to motorists and their behavior (no lights, riding on the sidewalk, wrong side of the road, etc.) is less likely to reflect badly on those who use a bike to get around and generally look like we know what we are doing.

But you, you could have put a foot down and thus been able to take a hand off the bars to keep your turn signal (left hand outstretched to the left) clear and understandable to the motorists behind you. You could have had a set of lights on your bike, or at least you could have had some reflectors, better than nothing. You could have considered how you were making the rest of us look. Finally, had you not had a car with operable and visible tail lights stopped behind you, you would have been invisible to oncoming traffic and could have gotten plowed over by a car trying to make the stale green light you were waiting at.

Look, I'm all for cycling, I'm all for riding with traffic, and I'm all for trackstands- they're fun and they take some effort to learn. I feel proud every time I do one at a stoplight, too. And yeah, I have a brakeless fixie with no lights or reflectors on it in the garage too (10 point bonus if you can guess when I DON'T ride it- that's right, at NIGHT!) But come on, man. Your little balance demonstration held up traffic, confused the guy who was stuck behind you, and furthered the negative image many Missoula drivers have of those of us who use bikes for transportation. A lot of people are working really hard in this town to make cycling a viable, safe alternative to burning fossil fuels, and what you did today was counter-productive. And you could have been killed.


On Taking My Own Advice

It has been a fairly productive couple of days. On Friday, I found myself out of hours to work for the week (look for a future post titled; "on being union.") and so only popped by work for our "holiday open house." Of course, I also had promised cookies for the event and so found myself Friday morning juggling trips to the Green Hanger to swap Laundry loads with trips to the Orange street Food farm to buy butter and food coloring with trips home to make, color, flavor, load extrude and bake dough. The spritz cookies were, by all accounts a hit and the party was really nice. Kate and Ben came along and Ben was able to get a tour of my office for the first time.

On Saturday, I worked a full day at REI, which was fairly mellow and enjoyable as usual. I used my lunch break to tune and clean my bike. I came home and turned some recently-obtained ground elk to do meatballs along with spaghetti and garlic bread. The meatballs were a success and we had sauce around that I made from Kate's Mom's old family recipe, substituting bison meat for beef in the sauce. So we basically had elk in bison sauce with a bit of pasta and cheese for dinner, with lots of leftovers to carry us through the week.

Today, we had a holiday brunch to attend for Kate's work, held at her bosses' house. It was really nice, as they fired up a waffle iron for the occasion. I brought fresh mozzarella smeared with creme fraiche we cultured ourselves by combining sour and whipping cream and letting it stand overnight. On top of the creme fraiche was olive oil, salt and pepper, marjoram, and a scattering of paper-thin slices of chili pepper. Nice on fresh breads from Le Petit, it was.

Later, we went to see Ben's new appliances, which our shared property-management company installed this week, replacing a couple of harvest-gold dinosaurs that were unsafe and certainly weren't doing his electric bill any favors. We also worked on Christmas cards and such.

This evening, another visit to Ben's place spawned a conversation between us about hi attempts to get his photography business to grow some legs here in Missoula. We talked a lot about getting a job to pay the bills, getting his name and his stuff out, getting him networked with other businesspeople, and how to balance it all, and I got talking a lot about the whole GTD concept. I talked about putting tasks into an excel spreadsheet along with timelines and budgeted amounts of times, sequences, sub-tasks, etc. We talked about whiteboards and workflow and time management and all that stuff.

It made me realize that I need to run down that same wagon and climb back on. Time for another Braindump, I guess, and time to do something more with my tasks than just write them down, though its a start.


New Stuff

Well, I signed on with the new blogger template, which of course led me to change a few things around. The main thing I realized is how badly I need to calibrate my monitor, as my "black" is pretty gray.



There's been a bit of an inversion in town this week. The fog was pretty thick in the valley this morning and there is a nearly palpable smell. Diesel, woodsmoke, car exhaust, steam, all of it trapped under a layer of cold air up higher and squatting on the valley. Montana is a dumping ground for old clunker vehicles. There's no inspection required out here to register a vehicle (nor do you have to prove you have insurance in order to register). So Missoula is full of old cars belching exhaust that hasn't been seen since the 80's in most states. Old U.S. Forest Service LUV trucks, 1970 Lincoln Continentals, K-cars, Subarus death-rattling their way across town. They have it all here. No traffic initiative, no street reconfiguration is ever going to fix the pollution in this place. And forget about it if you ever get hit by one of these un-inspected, uninsured behemoths. I'm not sure why its like this, but I have a feeling it has something to do with the whole independent, psuedo-cowboy, crappy house and a huge plasma TV from BestBuy in the back of the pickup while the kids go to a substandard school and dream of leaving, attitude that so many in this place have. The desire to remain crappy, because somehow the freedom to be crappy, to be second-rate, is more important to people than breathing.


Weekend Update

It was a weekend of errands, cleaning and general catch-up. I didn't have to work at REI, so I started Saturday with rearranging the garage and putting back all the bike tools. I have the bike all set up for winter riding, photos to follow as soon as I take some. Kate overhauled her closet and the bathroom, and we both did a fair bit in the kitchen. Cleaning out the garage also gave us occasion to find and put up the Christmas decorations, which we did. Again, photos to follow sometime soon.

The weather's been good here, bitter cold at the beginning of the week and snowy and warmer by the end. The sky was gray all weekend and there was no wind or anything, so Kate and I were able to get out on our bikes a little bit today as well. The weekend was capped off by an REI store meeting for me tonight and dinner alone for Kate. We're back home now and ready for bed, and that was our weekend.