June 23, 2008

Getting back to Dude-Dom

Week two of the 2nd complete week on the bike (to work) -- enough excuses, chapter 613. Something like that. I'm gonna try to make an honest run at pretending to live "car-free" -- yeah, yeah, while I still have a car rotting in the driveway, I'm going to at least pretend that I can't find the keys, or the tires are shot. Something like that.
I saw this awesome show a couple nights ago on this new network called "Planet Green" -- as the name suggests, it's a network devoted to all things "green". This will hopefully not turn into one of those VH1 specials about 20 years from now, when we're all living in UV-stable geodesic domes made of mylar -- dude, remember when we tried to "go green"? What a trip! (this is assuming that it DOES turn out to be a terrible fad, and we're all acting too late.
Ahhh....optimism...sometimes I just don't get it. I digress.... on Planet Green, there was this really great documentary, about an hour long, by one of my fave guys on the planet today: Les Stroud. I wanna meet this cat, just to sit there and drink some coffee and soak up the knowledge, the stories, ya know? This guy is living my dream life... hardcore wilderness guy, survivalist, musician, filmographer. Ugh... I took the wrong classes in school or something, or I was born too far south. ANYways... the only thing he apprently isn't is a cyclist, so I do have THAT going for me. Maybe he is... I dunno. Hey, Les.... if you wanna hit the trails up there in Ontario, and don't mind letting a room for a weekend, lemme know, eh? Sweet.
Anyhoo... this show was called "Off the Grid", and the subject was a typical suburban family (Les's), two kids, wife, husband; they decide to cut ties with the sprawl, the utilities, and buy some land out away from the hustle and bustle - build a homestead. Using the latest technology, they set up a cabin, renovate an old barn, dig a well, harvest rain, wind, and the sun to provide power and comforts, and chop wood for heat. The wife and kids are on board, there are adjustments, etc., but it's really interesting. It made me sigh outwardly, as I sat and watched -- snuggly seated deep in suburban Kansas. MAN....simplification sounds so IDEAL right now, at this time in history, in my life --- call it a midlife crisis if you will, but I seriously want to cut off the cable TV, even the internet perhaps (ok, maybe not...) tell the gas and electric companies "no thanks", and just GO out there somewhere -- all those places I love to ride that aren't too terribly far away... up north, near the water somewhere, reclaim some land - maybe some land with some history on it... build up a stone house, or a log home -- SUPER insulated, maybe partially subterrainian. Get a wind generator going, some solar cells, work from home, or at least work somewhere within reasonable commuting distance. Get out of the corporate lifestyle - something I've never quite fit into. Get my hands dirty again. YEAh -- I'm not exactly the Brawny guy from those paper towel commercials, but I'd survive -- I'd learn how, the hard way - and I'd welcome it. You didn't have "geeks" and "cube droids" 150 years ago... you learned a trade, and you adapted or you died. Toss out the gym memberships, and build my muscles the old fashioned way; lugging things around, working the land... and all the while minimizing my footprint, teaching my kids the value of sweat and toil, and honest work -- equipping them to decide for themselves someday what path to take, and what the differences really are. The benefits of both worlds. There is something very attractive about all that.
Ahhhh....but the wife would never buy it.....and so I snap back to reality again... She is my soul mate... but that doesn't always mean we see eye-to-eye on things of this sort...So I must be content with this life, knowing that my chance may well come in another lifetime. I am fully content to enjoy her company, her smile - knowing that this life comes with it, I wouldn't trade anything. I'll put on my outdoorsman's hat and fire up the lawn mower, for my "adventure" in the wilds of our backyard. Sometimes...just for fun...I can tune out the sounds of the nearby streets, and wonder just for a moment if I can light a fire without matches....maybe those dried weeds over there would make good kindling..... and if the sun is juuuust right.....
At least I can try to do PART of it.... and riding a bike to work consistently is a good start.
My point really here is that even though it seems frustrating that we can't do it ALL, and take HUGE steps towards a solution...we can take SOME steps. Even if they are small, the cumulative effect of all of us taking those steps is a huge solution in itself. So go ahead and take whatever steps you can, and don't be frustrated that you can't just chuck everything, and do it all. The point is to do SOMETHING.
Took a few photos today, along the way --- mainly testing out my phone's built-in camera to see if motion shots would turn out decently, and they did. Most were unintersting test shot of grass, spokes, etc....so I left those out....but the ones below I found reason to mention.

This first one, taken near Deanna Rose Park in OP, between 139th and 137th along Quivira Road.

The wildflowers in the background along the downwards slopes of the roadway above -- another one of those things that motorists up on the road flying past won't get to appreciate. There are yellows, purples and blues intermixed in there, all tiny flowers - alive with bees and bugs - ending abruptly at the stone retaining material that holds the soil in place right above the creek here. In full commuter trim in next to the tree is the Kogswell -- the first picture I think taken of the beast with the panniers attached. Yeah, the ole Carradice bags worked really well for a long time, but the lower center of gravity and essentially double capacity of the panniers is perfect for commuting - waterproof, too, and a lot of reflective material. In the foreground is the trail itself - finally complete, I can get home to office and stay out of the traffic for 60% of the way. Not bad -- but impassible in the winter. No trail maintenance here! By summer's end, however, the new overpass at 133rd Street and US-69 will be complete, and I'll be able to get home on the roads without any major headaches. Can't wait!

Later on, grimmacing into the glare of the rising sun ahead of me, this over-the-shoulder shot shows more of the endless construction along 139th streets. Including a new connector road to 135th, and wider lanes, this once quiet alley behind the ballfields now sports a small convention center, bigger and improved ballfields, and whatever it is they're pumping concrete for behind me. Been going on in some form or another for over a year now, I'm curious how traffic will be when they are finished.
Small, quiet roads that are condusive to bicycle commuting are fast becoming just like this one -- growth opportunities. "Fill it all in" seems to be the city plan of choice.

Finally in the office, I thought I'd provide a little food for thought for your own commuter-solution. Here's some of my plans that I've brought to life over the years.
At left is the "closet" -- the usual cubicle storage shelves are removed, and PVC pipe is cut to fit and hung with paper clips and zip ties to the slots that normally hold the shelving tabs. One shelf is retained at the top for cycling caps, whatever else. The intent here is drying of the commuter clothes after the morning ride. Out of the shot and on the desk surface is a table top fan, aimed into the cabinet for air cirulation. A collection of modified hangers and such provides room for a ful winter kit, jacket, warmers (hung on the PVC tube towards the back wall and lower), and shorts, etc. This is facing inwards to the inside of my work space, so passers-by can't even see what is hanging there. It works quite well. After drying, the clothes are stashed back in the bags until it's time to ride home.

The bags are stored up here in the overhead bin - again something normally reserved for files, notebooks -- stuff that doesn't make sense in this computer age. Everytihng I'll ever need is stored on shared servers and on DVD-ROM. The office of the future this ISN'T.... but, it helps hide my panniers during the day, it's lockable, and it's out of the way. I personally love the "this is my life" beige-tone steel. Very inspiring and motivating. Makes me want to crank out a spreadsheet.

Next, the shoe drawer...again, who the heck is gonna use all this file space??? Get with the now, tree killers! I'm not really much on sweatshops and overcrowding, but it makes me wonder about the planners that put together our "compound". We could have planned smarter, built half the buildings, and had some marvelous land left over for a nice park or something. Oh, who am I kidding, they would have turned it into a strip mall. But, the amount of space taken up by this monster cubicle -- it makes me wonder how many buildings we really needed in the first place. This is one of five drawers like this. I like it, but I only really NEED this one, and maybe the one above it. In this one, normally my dress shoes live - at night. Until I arrive at work and pull the Clark Kent, that is -- then my cycling sandals park here. Note the shoe buffer, and FeBreeze Anti-Microbial spray. Disinfected shorts are happy shorts... and happy shorts make for happy tushy. Happy tushy.... blah blah blah. Gross.
Anyways --- those on the fence about "what would I do with all that stuff?" when it comes to bicycling to work -- take a long look at your workspace, and I'll bet you can find a lot of unique ways to make the most of your space. Then, you will have one less excuse not to make the most of your opportunity to take one more car off the roads during rush-hour.
Thanks for reading, and talk to you soon --

1 comment:

Noah said...

I didn't build a closet. The supports for my desktop have holes in them, and I just loop a hanger through those holes and let my stuff air out down there. I usually plop my panniers down on the desk. Your shoe storage solution mimics my own, though. I just leave the wingtips at work.