Most TV and movies are trash, whether for adults or kids. The grownup material loads up on mindless violence or sex to compensate for its underlying dullness and unoriginality. Kids media sells stuff. None of this is news.
But twice this fall I’ve bumped into disheartening synergy that I felt merited a lament: the endless recycling of violent grownup-movie cliches had jumped the track into movies for small children. This seems like the worst direction this could go, though maybe not surprising.
Here is my n = 2 of complaints. I’m sure if I had the misfortune of watching such movies in increments of more than 45 seconds I would have more to rant about.
I wrote about how the cargo bike changed my life. The #1 game changer is how mundane car errands become joyful adventures. Whenever I can, I haul things by bike, and it’s become a game to see what new objects I can haul.
Here are some favorites. Photos 2016-2019.
Babies & Toddlers
Babies love the Yepp seat. They start off awake:
Then quickly doze off (don’t worry, he had his helmet on during the ride):
It’s stuck with me since I saw it in the Myrtle Beach airport in July. A young man wore a drawstring backpack printed with the slogan “imagine a world without oil and gas.” Under that it said, “IOGA WV”.
I first read this phrase the way I would if I had uttered it: as an aspirational call to imagine a world without oil and gas. Something like AOC’s “Message from the Future” or the Transition Handbook, whose featured blurb notes that “most of us avoid thinking about what happens when oil runs out (or becomes prohibitively expensive)” [more on this later].
When a search for “IOGA WV” revealed it to be the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, I realized the phrase was meant differently. There aren’t many hits when you Google that sentence, but they mostly come from oil & gas interests. The phrase on the backpack is meant not as a serious call but as a statement of ridicule: life is unimaginable without oil and gas.
The phrase captured my imagination, in part because I’m amused by its Janus word nature: its two meanings are opposites. But also because in the way I first read it, it’s a succinct, elegant clarion call to dream as we must. In the effort to move beyond fossil fuels and preserve a habitable planet, it’s likely that our imagination, not technology, will be the limiting factor.
I don’t have hard data on this. Ann Arbor should collect this kind of data – Portland, OR has being doing bike counts since 1991. But I feel confident that the number of electric-assist bikes and cargo bikes on the road in Ann Arbor is growing rapidly.
Yesterday I parked in the excellent covered bike parking in the 4th and Washington structure and when I returned saw five e-bikes parked there:
Ann Arbor is a good town for an e-bike. It has some serious hills, which many people can’t or don’t wish to ride up while commuting. It has people with disposable income and environmental leanings who can be the early adopters. And we have two great stores for e-Bikes, Human Electric Hybrids and the newer Urban Rider (same ownership).
(Regarding one particular hill: the William Street Bikeway is slated to open this fall. This will be a veritable sales pitch for e-bikes, offering a safe and pleasant way to get to campus and downtown … to those riders who can surmount the steep, short climb up William from First to Ashley. Increase your assist level!)
Electric-assist bikes will grow in popularity here, becoming a critical part of how we move around in a world without abundant gasoline. (Even in a world with cheap gas they’re gaining steam, since they’re more fun, healthier, and cheaper than cars). E-bikes are already hugely popular in Europe and China, and while America has been slower to catch on, sales have nearly doubled annually in recent years. They’re the future.
I chatted with the owner of the Sondors bike (pictured above) as he locked up. He said he had been close to buying a moped but a friend talked him into buying an e-bike instead. He’s happy he did.
It’s a pleasure to watch e-bike numbers grow here in these early years of adoption.
A collaboration beer born from the local social network a2mi.social. George suggested a Black IPA; I had Centennial hops to use up so decided to brew “Black Hearted”, an improvised recipe loosely inspired by Bell’s Two-Hearted (though we also used a bunch of newer wave hops in addition to Centennial).
Easy brew day. For recent brews, I had the grain crushed at Adventures in Homebrewing and experienced a middling 70-75% brewhouse efficiency. Their mill is set to a cautious crush. For this brew, George crushed the grains quite fine and we fly sparged slooooowly, which I credit for the whopping 94% (!!) efficiency we experienced. (We did have a stuck mash but got out of it quickly). 94% is not out of the question: Kal, the creator of The Electric Brewery on which my system is modeled, claims to get a consistent 95% efficiency.
I am part of the remote co-working community Workantile, in downtown Ann Arbor. We have small private rooms for taking conference calls and I often find them stuffy and notice I’m tired by the end of a meeting. I’d read that excessive CO2 build-up in meetings can impair cognitive function. Was that the case, or was I just bored from the meetings?
I borrowed an Indoor Air Quality Meter from my amazing local library (by Sper Scientific, normally $400, for me, $0) and went to find out.
For Round 9 of the Knob Creek sour barrel project, we brewed a Berliner Weisse. This was the simplest recipe I’ve brewed: 60% Pilsner malt, 40% Wheat malt, 1.040 OG (our actual was more like 1.035). No hops: hops inhibit lactobacillus and there’s no hop character needed for the style.
Spencer and I brewed a quadruple batch (23 gallons) – this included an extra 5 gallons to be shared by the group, covering the angel’s share and making for fuller take-home portions. I thought I’d get by with reusing the yeast cake from a batch of cider; that failed to take off so I pitched a fresh packet of US-05.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Yellowstone National Park. We drove a lot outside the park, unavoidably. From the airport in Bozeman to the town of West Yellowstone, and to the park entrance every day. We also drove many miles daily in the park. There, we might be able to do better for our visitors (and it is our park) and the park itself.
When we talk about public transit locally, a perennial question is of ridership volume: when do we cross the tipping point where the transit service becomes financially viable and practical for users, even preferential to riding in a car? Yellowstone may be there. Its crowds and traffic are the cost of its success, but a bus system could mitigate these, opening the park to more people while preserving its navigability. And a car-free Yellowstone would be better for the flora and fauna as well.
I brewed my first Flanders Red – my first sour beer – in 2010. Other AABGers brewed sour beers but they weren’t yet commercially ubiquitous. I knew mine was good when in a head-to-head tasting it was plainly superior to Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja.
In a stroke of beginner’s luck, that beer placed 1st out of over 1,000 entries at the 2012 Homebrew at the W.E.B. competition. I won a $1000 gift certificate, which I spent on the two kettles that are are the foundation of the brewing system I use today.
Coming full circle: this is my third Flanders Red, all using the same recipe. This time, instead of fermenting with my own microbial culture mix, I’ll be doing a clean ferment and adding it to the Knob Creek barrel (round 10!) along with my co-brewers.
The recipe was formulated by the AABG’s Jeff Rankert. Hard to see how the maize would be historical, but it should give non-yeast microbes more to chew on.
A few days in a row I saw the same bike locked up in the same place outside of Workantile (the co-working space I belong to on Main Street). And it was always locked like this:
This is insecure as only the front wheel is locked to the post. A thief has only to open the quick release skewer and then carry off the bike, leaving the front wheel behind. It would take seconds.
After several days of walking past this, I wrote a short message on a yellow Post-It note. I didn’t want to draw attention to the target by putting the text out in the open, so rolled it up and tucked it into a gap on the handlebars.
Not knowing anything about the rider, I took care not to mansplain. I politely suggested that their bike could be locked much more securely if the lock passed through the frame, and signed off “Happy Riding! :)”
The next day, their bike was locked in the same place – but with textbook-quality locking technique. The U-lock passed through both the frame and the front wheel. It’s appeared that way each morning since.
Today I saw a sticky note fluttering from the bike’s seat. It was a reply to me:
Here’s to anonymous kindness and old-fashioned passing of notes.