Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Orwell, PBWiki, and more biking

OK, this will be a scatter shot post since I have a few things to talk about, but not enough time to write full entries.


This is the best essay
I've read in a while, though after reading and agreeing with it, one is constantly in fear of violating it's advice. What I like most about the essay is Orwell's ability to demonstrate the alternative to dreary writing: he tells of an author using "an accumulation of stale phrases [that] chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink" and a sentence in which "A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details."

I would love for artists to apply this advice to their lyrics and songs. I don't need to hear another identical song asking me to "hold on to me, and never let me go." Does that make you envision anything unique or memorable? To contrast, "a kiss on your molten eyes" is a wonderful line from the Shins that engages many senses to make the song more intimate. "Love is watching someone die" is a direct lyric from Death Cab for Cutie that begs for discussion and thought. Postal Service gives even cliched metaphors more realism with "Will someone please call a surgeon \Who can crack my ribs and repair this broken heart."


I changed jobs! This is my second week at a start up that hosts websites that anyone can edit. Running a book club, coordinating travel plans, or taking notes for your CS class? Make a wiki and let me know how it goes.

Rescomp and my various small projects are like living alone: you get to have almost complete control over your situation, but it's somewhat lonely. A9 was like living with your family: you have a lot of resources, but always have someone looking over your shoulder, telling you how they want it done. I don't know what PBWiki's metaphor will be, which is exactly the experience I wanted; "Fight the temptation to choose the clear, safe course. That path leads ever down into stagnation."

In the saddle

One thing that has not changed is my enthusiasm for biking. J and I completed the Page Mill-Skyline-La Honda loop, with the obligatory stop at Alice's. I've started a more varied, aerobic workout that I hope will increase my sprinting abilities. I'll let you know how the Old La Honda test goes.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bay Trail

I wanted to take it easy my first time back on the bike after the ride, so I set out to explore some of the San Fransisco Bay Trail. The Southbay has a lot of surprises: Sunday I discovered a little park that overlooked the bay, complete with picnickers, a small lake with kayakers, and many families on bike. Unfortunately, the path behind Mofit Field is incomplete, so I had to take the long way around to get to the Sunnyvale sections.

Riding this loop was quite a difference. For starters, the trail is gravel, which I foolishly believed would just be temporary. I road on, simultaneously hoping for smooth asphalt and trying to convince myself that this could be justification for buying a mountain bike. The loop takes you by the lovely water treatment plant, with it's accompanying lovely smells of sewage. Asphalt is most useful spread on the ground for your riding comfort, not piled up on the side of the road, which is where I finally came across it.

Yes, that's correct: the road had actually been de-paved. My carbon renforced tires prevailed, though, and despite some fierce crosswinds I completed the loop without an accident. Without being pooped on either: I managed to disturb a huge flock of seagulls who proceeded to circle over me. Continuing the bird theme, I surprised a hawk while biking by its hiding place. What do hawks hide from? Well, as soon as it was out in the open, a group of crows started cawing and diving at it, chasing it 3 blocks along my route. "Common, you're a hawk," I wanted to yell, "end those jerks." Oh well, sorry about that, Mr. Hawk.

Even with some misadventures, being back on the bike was a great feeling. I look forward to navigating the rest of the Bay Trail soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I've Returned!

The AIDS/Lifecycle was an amazing experience again. I met another great set of people, stayed free of injuries, and felt much more confident on the bike this year. Here are a few interesting things I discovered on this year's ride:
  • I didn't miss TV at all. Talking with new people let me hear all the interesting stories I could want.
  • It's weird not seeing yourself for a long time. I only shaved twice on the trip, which were also the only two times I saw myself in a mirror. It was a strange feeling realizing you're not sure what you look like after all the sun and riding.
  • People can snore really loudly. At one point two people seemed to be having a snore war; I don't know how they are even breathing hard enough to produce noise at that volume.
  • I always looked forward to riding. I'm taking this week off to let my butt recover, but I'm looking forward to the next time I'm in the saddle.
Thanks again to everyone who donated and supported me. I look forward to riding with many of you in the future!