Thursday, September 25, 2008

Camera Bike Mount

Cheap, easy, and effective bike mount! I made this today. Immediately below is the thing in action, and below that is a video tutorial made by another enterprising individual. Follow this link to a detailed list of instructions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Studio Life

During my college radio days, I was at the helm for some crazy studio hijinks, and put out my share of metaphorical fires, but I'm sure the faculty manager is happy he never had to deal with this situation. On the other hand, what dedication to the broadcast!!! Did he "shush" the guy trying to put out the fire? Laughing hysterically.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008


NPR's David Lipsky found a better way than I to describe the prospect of a future without DFW:
When someone very gifted kills themselves, it's like the best student dropping out of high school. There's the tragedy, but it's set in a particular and personal fear: What are they seeing that we don't? The loss to his family is impossible to imagine. The loss to us is easy.

No writer saw the era as clearly. Wallace's readers counted on him to go on, progressing distantly but alongside us, filing new reports every couple of months, helping us remember how smart we were, inviting us into his crisper world. In his last book of fiction, he wrote a story about suicide, about "emerging from years of literally indescribable war against himself," and ending with the sentence, "Not another word."


In the midst of my mourning for DFW, Friedman's bit on "drill, baby drill" (one of the most frightening moments at the RNC) gave me a laugh with a Wallace-esque scenario.

From the Times:
Why would Republicans, the party of business, want to focus our country on breathing life into a 19th-century technology — fossil fuels — rather than giving birth to a 21st-century technology — renewable energy? As I have argued before, it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”
His (Friedman's) new book should arrive at my door today.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More thoughts on DFW

Before I head off to work today, I feel compelled to get down some further thoughts re:DFW.

It's comforting to read all over the web so many eloquent thoughts on the meaning of DFWs work and his importance in the lives of so many readers. Since I first read the news last night I've been thinking about why his work had such strong resonance for me and his other fans. In my last post I quoted an article which referred to his "maniacal energy" and his "exuberant experimentalism," and these characteristics made his writing a blast to follow. But I think at the core of his perspective there was a quiet outrage at our predicament, softened by a sympathy for us feeble creatures who seem only to sink deeper into this morass.

It's a central theme in Infinite Jest, he addresses it directly in "E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction," and also in his 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address. I'd argue it's an implicit theme in "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," and many of his other works. The predicament as I refer to it is of two parts: our placation and our obfuscation. We are encouraged by forces all around us to remain blissfully ignorant in our "default" mode.

The "default" mode is reinforced by the bombardment (from the media, advertisers, and culture in general) by stimuli, stimuli specifically designed and engineered with the effect, often intentionally, to sabotage our capacity for critical thinking. Our "default" status is as non-thinking addicts of one sort or another.

From the 2005 Kenyon Address:
If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options.
In the "default" setting, we are pleased to be sheep, which is sad in proportion to the amount that it prevents enlightenment. We are too often not only just sheep, but arrogant sheep.

I think at the core of DFWs voice is a profound melancholy over the ubiquity of this stimuli and the trap that it presents not only for us as culture consumers and he as a culture provider, but for all of us as citizens. In his introduction to the 2007 edition of "The Best American Essays," he gives this swirling, ubiquitous stimuli a name: "Total Noise."
Here's an overt premise. There is just no way that 2004's reeelection could have taken place - not to mention extraordinary renditions, legalized torture, FISA-flouting, or the passage of the Military Commissions Act - if we had been paying atention and handling information in a grown up way. 'We' meaning as a polity and a culture.

. . .It's amazing to me that no one much talks about this - about the fact that whatever our founders and framers thought of as a literate, informed citizenry can lo longer exist, at least not without a whole new modern degree of subcontracting and dependence packed into what we mean by "informed."

. . .[in reference to an essay contained in the collection] That last one's of especial value, I think. As exquisite verbal art, yes, but also as a model for what free, informed adulthood might look like in the context of Total Noise: not just the intelligence to discern one's own error or stupidity, but the humility to address it, absorb it and move on and out therefrom, bravely, toward the next revealed error. This is probably the sincerest, most biased account of 'Best' your Decider [a double reference to DFW as the editor of the collection, in contract to the other Decider, GWB] can give: these pieces are models - not templates, but models - of ways I wish I could think and live in what seems to me this world.


From the Times:
David Foster Wallace, whose darkly ironic novels, essays and short stories garnered him a large following and made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, was found dead in his California home on Friday, after apparently committing suicide, the authorities said.
The world is a dimmer place. Truly heartbreaking. DFW's writing has made me laugh out loud regularly, and I've never felt more attuned to any other writer's thinking. He saw through layers of nonsense that most of us often aren't even aware of. DFW's work set off fireworks in my head multiple times per page and I'm so, so sad that his voice has been silenced. I have loved no others writer's voice as much. I'm no believer, but I wish I were so that I could believe DFW was in a better place. My heart is broken. DAMN DAMN DAMN DAMN.

From the LATimes:
"He is one of the main writers who brought ambition, a sense of play, a joy in storytelling and an exuberant experimentalism of form back to the novel in the late '80s and early 1990s," Ulin said. "And he really restored the notion of the novel as a kind of canvas on which a writer can do anything." . . .

In a 1996 profile in the New York Times Magazine, Frank Bruni wrote, "Wallace is to literature what Robin Williams or perhaps Jim Carrey is to live comedy: a creator so maniacally energetic and amused with himself that he often follows his riffs out into the stratosphere, where he orbits all alone."

Below is the most recent footage of DFW I have found after a cursory search. Witness a touch of his comic observational brilliance. It strikes me that he's very often painted himself as the outsider, and without getting crassly psychoanalytic about it, I leave it to you to attribute whatever amount of importance you will to his final remark.

For an impressively comprehensive array of DFW-philia, including bibliography, interviews, and the like, visit DFW fansite The Howling Fantods.

Here are two of my favorites, though it's hard to choose only two. And of course, rule #1 with DFW: DON'T SKIP THE FOOTNOTES!

Federer as Religious Experience

David, we'll miss you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Tip Of The Hat To Avocet

When was the last time you had customer service worthy of high praise? It seems to be a dying art, but the folks at Avocet still come correct.

I bought my bike used 7 years ago or so. It's a 1987 Fuji team and I love it. It came already equipped with a bike computer, an Avocet 35. Well, that computer has served me well for most of those 7 years, but recently it started having issues. I was mulling over the concept of replacing it with a new computer, but I decided to contact the folks at Avocet first. They told me to sent it in. I did, and 2 weeks later, just as I was starting to wonder when I'd hear back from them, it arrived with a new cradle and wiring in my mailbox. No charge. Now I'm a customer for life. Nice one, Avocet.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

¡Viva Lucha Libre!

Yesterday I spent all day on assignment at Chicago's Congress Theater shooting for a feature on Mexican wrestling or Lucha Libre. I'm told that the superstar of the scene is the gentleman in the skeleton outfit seen in the video above, and he was in action. Those masks are great, huh? Compared to American WWE style, the Mexicans are a riot. Cartoonish and rich in humor, the event was a real family affair and a good time was had by all. Check out those moves! (FYI: This is not my footage)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Talking About Running

Just finished my introduction to what I hope will be a long and rewarding relationship with the highly acclaimed Haruki Marukami. I first read the excepts of this book in the New Yorker (abstract) and at that time made up my mind that I had to pick this up. In many ways, he's a man after my own heart, except that I haven't written any novels yet. Not a brilliant runner, but a consistent one. Fortunately he's a brilliant writer so it all evens out.

It's Marukami's fault that I forced myself out the door for a 5 miler this morning.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Cop Free Chaser Post

Ah, I feel better. The natural order restored.

You Tube Cyclist's Charges Dropped.

Today charges were dismissed against a cyclist who was body-checked off his bike by a NYC cop during a Critical Mass ride. From the NYTimes: "Police said the Hoboken, N.J., cyclist was arrested because he was obstructing traffic and deliberately steered his bicycle into an officer."

Seeing cops behaving like this gives me the same sort of willies as the old footage of guys dressed in white sheets and pointy hats running around with torches.