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Monday, October 19, 2009

An open letter to midterms and my readers

Dear midterms,

I know I'm 2/3rds done with you, but I'd like to talk.

First, what is up with you being so difficult this year? And time-consuming? I was not aware take-home exams would actually take that much more time than a paper or studying. Quelle surprise pour moi!

Secondly, can you stop making my classmates so panicky? I'd probably be done with you faster if I didn't have to take time to assuage fellow classmates' concerns.

Okay, that's it. Thanks for reading, dearest midterms. I know that you will be nothing but kind and friendly to me from here on out.


Dear readers,

Stay tuned for Amy's interview, post Kona. Also, am thinking about adding a weekly bike/urban/cool links post, distilling the best Twitter/Planetizen/etc. has to offer.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

all which isn't singing is mere talking

Today is mine and e e cummings' birthdays, hence the title. Today would be celebratory that I've managed to make it thus far in my life but I've work, meetings, errands and school all day. Fun, games, presents and cake shall have to be saved for another day.

Nah, scratch the presents part. Want to give me the best gift of all? A donation to Bike and Build in my name. (go here >> It's eco-friendly (no wasteful wrapping paper), would make me very happy, and would make people all across the country happy for helping to support affordable housing construction. You can do something to help end poverty with a gift like this. Donate $1, donate $10.14, donate $24, donate $4000.

It's corny what they say about every penny counting, but it's true. Think how cheap a nail is. Just around a penny each. You can afford a nail, right? Now think about how that nail is going to help hold together a warm, safe, comfortable house for someone who may have never lived in anything but substandard housing. You don't have to do this for me. Do it for them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Extra shiny forks: Update after the crash

It is due time for an update after my lil run-in with the hood of a cop car on Thursday morning. I'll start with the boring part (me) and get on to the exciting part (my bike).

The bruises are coming along quite nicely. For someone who very rarely bruises, this is weird to look at my legs and see purplish-blueish-yellowish splotches all over. The only cuts I had were tiny ones from my big ring, and those are almost healed. I now understand the point of chainguards! My neck is far less sore, and my abs/middle are also much less sore. So I am healing quite nicely. I have been rather cautious using crosswalks, though... haha.

Now on to Jay, my bike. Dropped it off yesterday at my LBS. Ended up needing a new fork and new bar tape, wheels to be trued, one of the fender arms needed to be straightened, and one of the brake levers was knocked a little bit loose. The new fork is lugged steel and finished in chrome, which looks very nice next to the chrome fenders. I was worried it would look garish, but it worked out okay. I'm hoping Cleveland's finest will be paying for the repairs! I think it will be a few days before I'll be riding again, and I'm already excited.

In other news, Google says it will add bicycling to it's maps, and stay tuned for an interview with Ironman World Championship (Kona, Hawaii) finisher Amy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Getting hit: On how to get a bomb squad* cop to come to your ER room

*No actual bombs, don't worry.

Continuing in the vein of ridiculousness, today I was riding my bike and got hit by, of all things, a cop car.

Yeah, a cop car.

Now before you go all militant and get angry over cops not treating cyclists fairly and all that, you should know this was an accident in the purest sense of the term. I was riding up to a crosswalk by a coffeeshop to go the CVS next door, and two cars pulled up to the stop sign. The one furthest from me was a cop car, and the two cars were staggered by a foot or two, with the cop car a little bit further back. Seeing that they were both stopped, I rolled through the crosswalk. But then the police car started going! It all happened so fast, so I don't really remember actually hitting the car. All I managed was to think "the cop car is really moving!" then the next thing I remember was rolling down the hood of the car (and thinking "i thought this only happened in movies"), then sitting on the ground. She hadn't seen me at all behind the other car. Yeah, she hit me when I had the right of way, so for legal purposes it's her fault, but she also had no idea I was there and obviously wasn't trying to hit me. She had come to a full and complete stop and just plain and simple didn't see me.

Someone grabbed my bike for me, and I was able to stand, so we got on the sidewalk. A bunch of people saw the accident, and one guy gave me his card if I needed a witness. Two more cop cars came, a fire truck with EMTs came, and then an ambulance. A little overkill, but whatever. The firemen took my bike, the EMTs took me, and the other cops did police-y type things.

The ambulance ride was pretty interesting. I was talking to the EMT, a former bike commuter here in Cleveland. Apparently he had stopped riding his bike to work because it got too unsafe. He also said that they'd been having more bike accidents recently. Not the kind of thing a bike advocate wants to hear, but important.

The ER visit was mostly routine. Some more cops came and asked me questions. Everyone would ask me, so what happened? I'd answer with "I was riding my bike when I got hit by a cop car" and I'd get a response along the lines of "wait, what? a cop car hit you?" As my knee, hip, and shin were hurting, I got a whole slew of x-rays. Got wheeled back radiology to find a bomb squad/crime scene photographer sitting outside my room (hence the title). Yeah, no joke. Apparently I'm a crime scene. So he took a few photographs and showed me the ones he had taken of Jay, my bike. Apparently the front fork is bent, along with one of the things that holds on the fenders. According to him, it looked fixable. I guess we'll see when I pick up the bike and take it the bike shop. The x-rays came back, nothing was broken! Just a lot of contusions, which I think is a fancy word for bruises, kinda like how laceration is a fancy term for a cut. Got discharged, limped over to the hospital cafeteria and got an Einstein's asiago cheese bagel because I feeling a little sorry for myself. Man, they have to be the best kind of bagel in the world. Took the bus back to my apartment and am now milking this for all its worth by sitting on my rear and being totally lazy. I'm already feeling better.

I'm incredibly lucky to have escaped from a car/bike collision with only bruises and a bike that (probably) can be fixed. That doesn't always happen, like in the case of Sylvia Bingham the other week here in Cleveland. So, on that note, I would like to request a few things of all you readers:
  1. Wear a helmet. Even if you don't think it works (even I'm not totally sold on the claim they protect your head), it sure makes it a lot easier to deal with paperwork/authorities if you do end up being involved in an accident.
  2. Read this post from Cycling Tips Blog on what to do if you're involved in an accident. Thank goodness I had read the post, and remembered parts of it, because the last bullet point is very true: the adrenaline masks the pain, and it's better to get it checked out right then because things don't start hurting until later.
  3. If you're in the Cleveland area, please participate in the 17 October ride celebrating the life of Sylvia Bingham. Meet in Edgewater park at 10am, there will be guided rides to go off and participate in community service type activities. Given what I know about Sylvia, I can't think of a better way to memorialize her life than to do a cycling event that gives back to the community, and one that will raise awareness of cycling in Cleveland.
Also, since I know you're feeling sorry for poor ole Furman, please consider donating to Bike & Build for me. Shameless, I know. :P But it's going to a good cause: affordable housing!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bike & Build 2010: Northern U.S.

Ever wonder what I'm going to do after graduation next May? Well, I'm still wondering that myself (job offers that start in September are very welcome) but I do know that from June to August, I'll be biking across the country.

Wait... 3800+ miles? On a bike? Am I out of mind?

Yes, yes, and probably yes. A classmate of mine at school particpated in a Bike & Build tour during the summer of 2008, and quickly sold me on it. Bike & Build organizes cross-country cycling trips for young adults to raise money for and support affordable housing efforts. So in addition to cycling 3800+ miles, I have to raise $4000 before May to support our building efforts. I'll have donation information up soon when I figure out how that all works. Along the way, we will stop to have "build days" where we actually help construct a house. I'm not exactly a master carpenter a la Norm Abram quite yet, or heck, even a house builder like Tom Silva, but I do know how to do basic stuff like hammer a nail, sand, drill and paint, and I learn quickly.

This is going to be a crazy experience. Never have I fundraised like that before. Never have I cycled more than 42 miles (dude, I was doing a sprint tri, endurance was not the goal). I will have to embrace novel things like clipless pedals, aluminum frame bikes, and brifters (I'm kinda old school, okay?). Regardless, I'm stoked for this opportunity. The nice thing about giving into the whole triathletes-must-have-blogs deal and then not giving up the blog is that I already have a great platform for a B&B blog.

Also, welcome to anyone who might have gotten here from the Bike & Build site, especially if you're a fellow NUS rider!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friday 5: Career Choices

Five questions on a Friday eve. Early for once! From the LJ one. How appropriate that this Friday's be a career-related question, just after we our college's career coordinator speak at our student organization. One surprising thing I learned: in urban planning your resume can be two pages. Who knew?

1. What did you dream of being when you were a little child?
I think when I "graduated" from nursery school I said I wanted to be a mommy. Of course, pretty much every other girl in my class said the same, so I might have just been going with the flow. Heck, maybe someday (in the very, very distant future) I will become a mommy and my apparent childhood dream will be realized.
2. What did you think you might become when you were between the ages of 12-13? Architect. I used to draw blueprints for fun. Seriously, who does that? And my dollhouse was m favorite toy, and I imagined that my room was a whole city around my dollhouse (albeit a walled one). Future urban planner much?
3. What career choices did you consider as a young adult? Civil or aero engineering. Then I discovered urban planning for a high school social studies project and knew that was it.
4. Did you follow along one of the career paths you considered? Urban Planning!
5. Have you changed careers since then? Was it by choice or necessity? No, I'm in planning school now. My concentration or focus within urban planning will change. Neighborhood planning is growing on me. Economic development and urban design are still two major interests of mine. Bike/ped planning and park planning are obvious interests. Freight planning, while a subset of transportation planning (albeit a super tiny one), is a field in its infancy, and that attracts me, along with the associated economic development implications. Basically I just want to fix up a city but I'm not sure how I will be going about that.

This is not to say I haven't occasionally considered other career options like, say, nursing. But urban planning just seems right to me.