Friday, 31 May 2013

Quick! Get your fix of splatterbutt - I mean happiness - before it's too late!

The world has gone mad.
A man died by beaver in Belarus.  Can you believe it?

Here at home, the boy was trying to take his coat off the hook this morning when he dislodged one of the helmets hung up high.  It landed on his head with a crack and left him with a lump, poor lad. There's a bit of rich irony:  who knew you could get a head injury from a helmet?

Q: What do helmets have in common with Robba the Ford?
A: Neither of them are all they're cracked up to be.

And all joking aside, a cyclist died on the Stanley Park Causeway this week when she fell off the sidewalk in front of a bus.  No helmet on Earth could have saved her, bless her soul. And now once again the city has a fixation on cycling infrastructure as the raging debate over transportation priorities takes the spotlight once again.  

Gandhi was so wise when he said that every fight is the difference between two perspectives illuminating the same truth.  You know which side of the fence I'm on.  For years there has been talk of extending the seawall along Point Grey road so that you can walk or ride all the way around Vancouver's waterfront.  Kitsilano has some of the highest percentages of daily cyclists, and so the route would certainly be well utilized, but still there is a lot of dissent because the homeowners on the part of the road in question fear the effects of losing their on-street parking.

But I can't help myself.  I am fixed in my belief that bikes are a better way to get around, though maybe not all bikes all of the time.  Take fixed gear bikes, for example.

Are they really a good idea?
I can see the point of them on a track, or even a bumpy, old, paved running field (And ouch! What a bad idea THAT must have been....!)  

At least on a track a cyclist doesn't have to react to bad drivers and unpredictable pedestrians.  But it's important to have an open mind, and I've never tried riding one before, so it was high time to give it a go. And go and go and go and ...WAIT!  How do you stop?

It's okay, there's actually a brake on this baby.  Thank Goodness.

I wanted to find that fixie zen that people talk about so I didn't use the brake, but neither did I go very fast! 

My inner chicken came out to play, and that made it more annoying than zen, but it was interesting, and not as hard to get used to as I thought it would be.  In the end it is still a bicycle like any other, and as with another bike, riding a fixie means you're on the right track.

It will boost your health and wellness,
 as long as you can stop when you need to.
I don't know about you, but I'd feel like a real tool if I hit some poor unsuspecting pedestrian.

And I would feel even worse if I were the bus driver who hit that poor cyclist this week.  That's why it's mad that our energy and transportation policies are so bloody pre-historic.  
But whatevs.
I sleep well at night knowing I'm doing the right thing.
It's true you might be in for a soaking every once in a while if you ride a bike in Vancouver,

but don't focus on the rain,

and never mind the occasional splatterbutt, either.
Fix your attention instead on how much better you feel every time you ride somewhere
instead of driving there.


Take another look at your options

Keep in mind that the madness lies not in riding a bike in the rain, 
but in getting into a car every time you need to go somewhere.  
It's ride your bike to work week, but you don't have to limit it to one week. 
Give up your own personal madness, fix your thoughts upon your destination, and give it a go.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Hey! It's not an excuse. It's called an explanation.

No, I haven't hung up my spurs.

It's just that I am missing my bliss balls

so I'm playing with my pussy instead,

but I'll see you soon.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Moving from strength to strength: time to protect your assets.

We interrupt this hiatus for a hiatus from hiatusing.  I have to talk to you.

By now of course you've heard about that crazy Emma Way woman in England who tweeted "Definitely knocked a cyclist off earlier – I have right of way he doesn’t even pay road tax #bloodycyclists,"  I wonder if she caught the irony, that the only reason he was bloody was because she hit him with her car.

A woman literally ran me off the road with her car on Vancouver Island in 2001. On purpose.  She was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and even though she was found guilty, she received a conditional sentence, so her record suffered no permanent damage as long as she successfully completed a course in anger management.  I didn't wait to see how she did, deciding instead to move to the UK to seek civilized society.

 There's irony everywhere these days.

If you like to ride up through the endowment lands to the University campus up on the hill, there are any number of routes you can take, many of them with two lanes of traffic and painted bike lanes, too.  If you are heading up the hill to UBC from 4th avenue, you will eventually come to a fork in the road whereby you can take the thoroughfare if you choose to go straight on up the hill as the crow flies, or you can take the scenic route, the seaside bypass.

That invisible sign there says Seaside Bypass, and it has a bicycle on it, too.

So the other day I took the bypass, as I often do.  By the time you arrive at this junction, you have climbed a little way up the hill toward campus, but if you take the bypass, you are headed straight back down to sea-level before you climb again.  And just before the hill gets steep, the road becomes in practice quite narrow.  There is a parking lane on the right side of the road, and it is very rough and bumpy, so if you are on a road bike headed down the hill, you need to ride in the middle of the road.

Cars hate that.

But honestly, it's a steep hill, so a bike going down it goes pretty fast.
Faster than the speed limit for the bottom third of the hill and around the corner, where it's 
30 km/hr, or 19 mph:

You can tell that's the speed limit because there are these yellow signs all over the place with the number 30 on them.  Except for here, where the sign says 20:

And it was exactly there, where the cyclist is in that photo, that a driver nearly forced me off the road the other day. She passed me within inches of my shoulder and then carried on another couple of blocks before she pulled over at the beach and parked here:

I was surprised to see her stop and mess about with her phone for a couple of minutes.  The way she was driving, you'd think there was some kind of emergency.  So I stopped, too, and I waited.  When she did open her door, she was very surprised to see me.  I was curious when I stopped, because I always wonder what goes through people's mind when they drive close enough to my bike to hurt me.  So I politely asked her why she passed me on the corner the way she did.  

Her reply blew me away.  She said "Bikes are supposed to pull over for cars."

Fuck.  Me.

I asked how she could hold a licence without actually understanding the rules of the road.  I pointed out to her that I am always allowed half a lane, and when I am going the speed of traffic (or indeed speeding as I was when she was trying to overtake me) then I am allowed a full lane.

She didn't believe me.

Now, back around the time when I first began publishing this blog, I referred to myself as a mad mutard, to which one kind reader took exception.  And I will acknowledge that it makes people squirm for valid reasons. This week, Snob said:

Wow.  Politically correct-minded people are working to abolish the word "retard" as an insult, but the fact is that language is evolving, and I feel strongly that we should preserve the word as a slur but apply it exclusively to motorists.  Because if you've got a better word for a woman who hits a cyclist and then Tweets about it then I'd like to hear it.

And the truth of the matter is that the word is offensive.  That's why I would like to nominate the woman who nearly nailed me a cartard.  

That expression "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...."
doesn't really apply to cars who sideswipe you.
Besides, I'm already strong enough.

Every day I try to be better than I was the day before.
That's why I'm climbing hills these days, to be better.

Seems to be working, too.  The hills are getting a little easier day by day, and I'm getting faster at climbing them.  And as a bonus, a silver lining if you will, all the heartbreak and hills have turned my ass into a lean, mean pumping machine. 

It may not be the hottest ass in the universe, but it's mine and I want to protect it from cartards who hate too much.  It's high time we designed our roadways to protect the most vulnerable road users, and it seems a good place to start is a public SAVE YOUR ASS FROM CARS THAT PASS education campaign.

This is just madness.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Bits 'n' bobs for better biking, and time off for good behavior, too.

Hola from Kitsilano Beach! 

Once upon a few years ago, my best mate and I shared a delightful au pair named YESsica.

That almost sounds naughty, doesn't it? 

It wasn't.  She was wonderful, our lovely young YESsica.  
She helped out with our kids while we sat around on the beach all day...


Yeah right.  We were developing what was certain to become a widely recognized house and home-ware brand, and a force to be reckoned with on a global scale. You'd have figured you were on to something, too, if Oprah's peeps called you, to feature you in the ultimate issue of O at Home magazine...wouldn't you?   

(shameless self-promotion)
Course you would.

(Shame is over-rated anyway)

We worked hard, even as those small boys needed to play hard.  You can understand, then, how much we appreciated having someone on hand to keep track of the comings and goings of  a herd of three small boys who wanted nothing more than to get into mischief at every possible opportunity, can't you? Someone hip to how frighteningly fast a feral young child can climb to the top of a very tall tree, which thankfully, she was. 

Better yet, lovely young YESsica was wonderful with the three boys.  She would sit down with the little ones after kindergarten and go through their letters and numbers with them for twenty minutes or so, and again and again we'd hear her mantra, as day after day after day she tutored them, encouraging them to focus on their letters. "Come on boys! Time to concentrate.  You can do it. FUCKusFUCKusFUCKus!"

Yes, yes, sweet YESica....
I can almost hear you now.

So many steps, so little time

Dear reader,
I love you.
Thank you for being here and indulging my flights of fancy.  
If you've been reading between the lines, you've probably noticed that I share my passion here on these pages, and I am a very passionate woman.
I love doing this, posting my cyclexploits so you can enjoy them, too.

But YESsica's right.

It's time to

Sometimes life gives you the ass end of the deal, doesn't it? 

And when it does, that's the time to pick yourself up by the boot-straps, get your feces coagulated, and move in a new direction. That's my intention now.  I am looking for a great new position for a girl endowed with the gift of the babble and very strong legs, so if you hear of something, please let me know.

I am also working on a few babble bits...

No, not those ones.
Bits for bikes so more people out there can share the joy of life in the bike lane.

And the boy needs me to FUCKusFUCKusFUCKus some more of my attention upon him, too.

Why am I telling you this?
Because as much as I love writing these posts to share with you, time is of the essence, and I need to spend mine on a few other endeavors for the next little while.  I have to take a short hiatus from spokenscene.

But you know I'll be back.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Bike House. Hey! Bikes are people, too, you know...

Snobbers' title for Thursday's post read: 

Spoilt for Choice: So Many Bikes

and in it he said
" I'm a semi-professional blogger with a fuckload of bikes, which means I'm exactly the sort of asshole who deliberates over what to ride today in the same way an investment banker stares at his motorized tie rack for 20 minutes while his manservant burnishes his corns before finally settling on some neckwear."

 As a thoroughly amateur blogger, I have no idea what he is talking about.
As a person with someone who is  hopelessly addicted to bikecrack, 
on the other hand, I get it.

And as a woman who sometimes spends 20 minutes staring at the shoe wall while the kitten scratches at my ankles and puts holes in my hose...
well, perhaps I should have been an investment banker, 
because damned, those hose are expensive.

It can be very challenging to choose the right shoe, you know.
How did I do?

Do they go with the dress?

Truth is, one of the biggest problems the man and I have, in the midst of this city of sky-high property prices, is shoe bike storage.  It's such an issue, in fact, that we have two places, one for us, and one for the bikes.

No I am not kidding.

Are bicycles an art form?
At the bike condo, every wall hosts a bicycle...

 ...except for the ones that don't.

Here's the bedroom:

Maybe you can sleep in the saddle, but this may not be the best room in the world for sweet dreams.

Welcome to the dining area.  Talk about your greasy spoon...!

Looks a bit like a scene from The Hoarders, doesn't it?
Aaaaand the living room....

It's a good thing we both like bikes.

I couldn't find the photograph of the man's share of bikes in the bike storage area of the building.  but you get the picture, don't you?  It's getting a bit crowded over there, and we can't really afford to splurge on another place for our growing inventory, so he is open to selling off a few bikes to make more room for his drug  hobby, bless him.

But even though we give our bikes their own premium space just a couple of blocks from False Creek, we don't keep them confined to the bike house. On the (human) home front there are actually a few walls without bicycles on them, but not all of them are so unadorned.  
Here's a photo of my favourite thing, which I keep in the closet:

No, not the orange "Emergency Preparedness Kit," and certainly not the scary black cat. That's Wiley, the neighborhood tom, who used to make himself at home in my closet every chance he could get.  I was too terrified of him to say no, but at least I slept well knowing  a ferocious devil-cat was guarding my best bike. The beast wanted to start spraying in the house as soon as the kitten arrived, however, and so we've all had to learn to stand up to him and say "No, you cannot come in."  

It's been good for us.

Here at the people house, we don't need walls to hang bikes on.

Any open space will do.
Snob is spoiled for a choice of bicycles, but in our lives the bikes are spoiled for a choice of space.

It's all good, though.  Bikes are an integral part of the Peace Plan.
If this love is but a drug then so be it, sign me up for life. I'm convinced it's much more than that.  
It's key to healing.  Bikes transport me beyond the minutia ruling this mad mind.
They provide a new perspective and take me to places like this:

and this

and sometimes even this!

Some rides take me to exotic places, and some are just a bit of me-time in the middle of a busy day, but every time I get on my bike I am taken to my happy place deep inside. 
That's why I love riding bicycles, and that's gotta be worth even more than Vancouver real estate.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Grin n bare it: a step by 473 step guide to getting nude on wreck beach.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” 
― Maya AngelouCelebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Ok. so first of all, thank you, Higgs Lob on high, for Snob's return.  
And thank you for sunshine and fast bicycles.   
Thank you for University Hill and the climbs I can choose or combine to tailor my ride and thank you, oh thank you for this bit of road:

I love my life.
 Welcome to my happy place.  It's a place I like to ride on week-days at stupid o'clock in the morning, and on weekends at my leisure, except never at a leisurely pace.  You can really go fast for a good long stretch here, and that makes me very happy.  But this is the road to happiness for lots of reasons.  It's not just the peace of mind I feel as my body and breath move in rhythm, nor the endorphin rush, nor the high from hurtling through space with my face to the wind and the power of this motion pumping through my thighs.
Though that's pretty sweet, too.

This road makes me happy because it takes me to naked.
Thank you for naked!

  If you climb up University hill on a hot and sunny day and then you climb down 473 stairs, give or take,


you, too, can be naked in the sun.

Mmm naked.
Naked is good.

The road to naked is known to have surprising twists and turns sometimes, you know.

University Endowment Lands

This type of detour through time and space is more likely to happen if some of that wacky Wednesday weed found its way into your Sunday brunch. Then you would be bakenaked if you ever found your way back to right-side-up-land. Not that I would know anything about it...
Thank you for right-side-up-world.

Oh!  And also, thank you for machine-gun wielding, side-car riding Baron Von Pugs.
If man's best friend doesn't put a grin on your face, what will?
Speaking of friends, thank you for friends who see you through in this topsy-turvey world,
and thank you for people who understand the power of kindness, people who aren't afraid to wield it:

Thank you for honesty, it's bewildering array of manifestations.  I've been called a lot of things, but vapid is a new one.  I'm so dense it seems paradoxical somehow.
Any press is good press? 

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ok.  I'm grateful that my work at least inspires criticism, because that means it's making people think, if only to think "NO!"

The small boy announced as he was watching the latest version, that King Kong looks a lot like mum when he gets mad, or I am a lot like him.  In a quick one-two punch, only an hour later he wanted to know why we took naked photos over the weekend, exclaiming "If a little kid saw that, it could scar him for life!"

Sigh.  Does this mean it's time for a cleanse?

Thank you for reality checks. It's always good to see where you stand, and what the world thinks of you...

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass... get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it's the ability to deal with them.” 
― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free

Which reminds me.  Thank you for wine, almighty Lob.

Mmm Hmm, that's what I'm talking about, a cold glass of wine... under the hot sun... bare naked.
I'm definitely grinning now and what do you know?
I've bared it, too. :D

It is time to get up and get on with it, though.
Vancouver has two gorgeous stair workouts, the Grouse Grind, and Wreck Beach.  You know which I prefer, though the grind is a better workout.  

What else?
Oh, of course:
Thank you for Love.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. 
John F. Kennedy

Yes! Blessed Be!
 Hmm... where did he get to now?

Friday, 3 May 2013

Must be nearly time to bend over for your next banking spanking.

 "Ultimately, history will judge whether we got this right," says Mark Carney, the outgoing Governor of the Bank of Canada, when questioned over the unusual fiscal policies the world's central banks  have enacted since 2008.

 Yep.  Judging is what history does best,
because today's actions leave a solid footprint on the fabric of tomorrow.
Here's a real footprint in time:

This pothole, on the Adanac bike route at Main and Prior, 

 shows the old bones underneath the asphalt on the early city streets of the Downtown Eastside.  It's all wood, baby, block upon block upon precise, beautiful block of Cedar wood, sacred among coastal First Nations for its many remarkable properties.
And wood you look at that! It is still solid after all these years, just the way I like it.
 Wouldn't you know it?
Tick!  Got wood. :D

Isn't it beautiful?  Imagine.  It was built before cars.  
I love it.
Bikes were here first, so when you ride on the Adanac route, part of your journey is a real ride down memory bike-lane.

I love to take a ride through time, imagining what life must have been like then...
it's fun, and it always makes me ever so grateful for my silly old smartphone and Whole Foods.

If a building is to stand the test of time it needs many things, not the least of which is a solid foundation.  Healthy cities and strong economies are generally built the same way, right? 
With an eye to the future, that is. 

You've gotta take the long view if you want to do it right.

Oh no! I must be going senile.  

When Grandma started to go, she used to talk about her childhood all of the time.  She couldn't remember what day it was, nor what she had for breakfast, but she could tell you exactly what Mrs Smart said to her the first day of school, and she did. Again and again. 

And here we go. I must have lost a day in the week somewhere along the way, and suddenly I have this irrepressible urge to share a school-girl recollection with you. It wasn't the first day of school by any stretch, and you know I have the memory of a goldfish, so I've probably babbled on about this before, but I distinctly remember being taught  waaaaaaaaaaay back when that when Germany was in a deep, dire recession after the First World War they printed tons of money and it was a very very bad idea because it led to run-away inflation and massive unemployment.  

Hmm.  Even to a goldfish, that does have a certain ring of truth about it.

 I don't always agree with Neil Macdonald's take on things, but his current series on the world's central banks, entitled Monarchs of Money, makes a bit of sense, even if it doesn't go quite far enough.  

"Asked whether central bankers are not in fact enabling irresponsible behaviour by speculators enamoured of cheap money, not to mention politicians who can't curb their borrowing and spending, Carney merely remarks that voters in a democracy get the governments they choose."  Now, I'm sorry, but that's not entirely true, is it? We get to choose between the lesser of two or three known evils, generally speaking, and they are invariably working on behalf of corporate interests in the end, anyway.  We certainly don't get to choose the guys who make the big decisions at the central banks, either, and they are doing more to change the course of the global economy than anyone or anything else.  

Who will hold accountable those holding the accounts? Why is the wealth they create off the backs of taxpayers not then put back into the economy? Why don't we finance green energy initiatives the way we subsidize the petro-chemical industry? Now that would be a switch worth bending over for.

Why do our fiscal policies ensure that we sell off our natural resources like cheap souvenirs? 

The bankers say "Can you imagine the chaos if we hadn't taken these measures?  It would have been the depression all over again!" It's true that the system needed some kind of hot cash injection, for sure, but why aren't all of the bankers who profited from bad behaviour being held financially liable for their actions? Am I repeating myself ?  Sorry. That's the inner goldfish babbling on. Even silly fish know that when the banks screwed up in that mess leading up to and then triggering the crash of 2008, "the people," the great unwashed masses who don't get to decide on who makes banking policy decisions, bailed them out the first time around, and now instead of "the people" profiting from all of this quantitative easing, there is austerity everywhere and "the people" are being asked to bail the banks out yet again, only worse.  This time they're going to cut into your savings account.

Paradoxically: yet again, it's the board members of the central banks who've made vast profits along their merry way. There's the rub:  when central bankers talk about wealth creation, it's not about a better standard of living for everyone, it's about profits for the 1%.

It's about the status quo and serving the financial interests of those major multinational corporations who wield the most power on the planet today.  The New World Order is Corporate Earth.  It's extra-governmental and it influences the greater economic directives which decide whose agenda gets served and how.  The only way we can change it is the way we vote with our pocketbooks. 
C'mon already, people.

Make different decisions.  Fit your house with solar panels.  Park your cars already and give it a go.  Sign up for The Lorax David Suzuki's 30x30 Challenge and take your bike out every day just to see how you feel in the end.  And see how your end feels in the end, too. - it's probably pretty perky.

While it's definitely not to everyone's taste, you have to respect a person striving to create art where only garbage was before. These wooden bikes are made from urban wood sourced from dismantled homes, fences and piers. 
Masterworks Wood and Design in Vogue's Style Ethics, May 2013.

That would be reduced to kindling in no time, the way I ride. I prefer clean lines and simple elegance. 

I like simple solutions, too.

Bicycles are such an easy way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and there are so many collateral benefits, too.  If we started with bike-centric urban planning and included infrastructure for sustainable energy supply in all new builds, we would quickly impact the global need for petroleum energy.  Why not do it before necessity forces the change upon us?

It might seem bizarre from inside your car, but life is better in the bike lane.  

History will definitely judge whether we've made the right decisions or not, 
but do we really need to wait for a verdict before we do the right thing?