Leaving the cave behind


The other day I became fascinated with the idea that automobiles are the modern day cave. I wanted to explore this idea a little bit more so I discussed it with someone who I knew would bring me more ideas - be sure to check out Jessie's post Cars and The Cave where she takes a more abstract, philosophical approach to this topic.

Cars, trucks, buses, SUVs - all provide their inhabitants with everything humans have ever required of a cave:

  • shelter from the elements
  • protection from outside dangers
  • a place to feel safe and secure
  • a place to relax and consume calories with little risk of threat
  • a place to create the preferred environment for idle thoughts

We've improved the cave by making it mobile. Moving caves! Just think of what our ancestors would have wished for and look at what's been accomplished in the modern automobile. It's all in there.

We've understood that sharing experiences and stories in a community is important and have also solved for a way to include everyone who wants to participate from the comforts of their automobile. If you don't have any passengers you can still participate in some semblance of community by listening to the radio, or communicating with a CB radio or cell phone. No one has to feel alone in their automobile, even if they are driving alone in back country roads. There is a great comfort to be had in hearing someone's voice.

So, what is there for me to complain about? We've adapted one of the oldest, most cherished controlled environments which has allowed humans to safely live and propagate, and we've improved on it! What can I possibly say that goes against this accomplishment?

Caves are complicated. Caves are also traps. There is a cost to giving up the outside world to go hide in a cave all of the time.

Read more [Leaving the cave behind]

Cinema, Cycling, and the Anti Hero


We love this story. A strong-willed, charismatic, rogue protagonist with an alternative and edgy lifestyle that becomes involved in an ultimate challenge and finally rises to the occasion.

Premium Rush chase scene
Premium Rush chase scene

We love this story when it is told in the context of embellished history, like William Wallace in Braveheart - back when Mel Gibson just seemed mostly harmless and not scarysad.

We love this story when it is told in classic works, musicals, and various movie adaptations, like Valjean in Les Miserables.

It's Vin Diesel in almost every movie he's been in. It's Aeon Flux, Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Resident Evil, Beowulf, Batman, Pac-man (the pill popper), Sanjuro Kuwabatake in Yojimbo, Aragorn.

We are drawn to these faulty characters because they seem more real, more like us. They are flawed in some understandable way, a way we can relate to. These characters are likable despite their human faults, and they become the kind of person you want to win, to bring back order and prove their worth to us, the audience that is now vested in their victory. In this story it becomes the audience that would now be cheated if the bad guys won.

But somehow, the bad guys won't win. Our fractured character, the anti hero, will win and be our champion.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt after crashing through a window on the set of Premium Rush
Joseph Gordon-Levitt after crashing through a window on the set of Premium Rush

Cycling is about to get an new anti hero, and I for one have been wanting and waiting for this to happen.

Read more [Cinema, Cycling, and the Anti Hero]

Map of flight N48DL


This is a sibling post to my thoughts during my analysis of flight N48DL, the purpose of this post is to share some of my analysis, as well as the data I produced. I am not involved in any official capacity to research the cause of the crash of flight N48DL on April 19th, 2012.

Here is a graphic showing the original flight plan and the actual path of the flight.

Flight path of N48DL with original filed flight plan.
Original filed flight plan and flight path of flight N48DL.

This is another view of the flight path which shows the westward descending and eastward ascending flight pattern.

Horizon shot of flight path, original and last amended flight plans. Altitude drops during westward orientation of the plane on the loops.
Horizon shot of flight path, original and last amended flight plans. Altitude drops during westward orientation of the plane on the loops.

Read more [Map of flight N48DL]

Bike lane salmon


Earlier today my coworker Bill and I were riding back to our office from a lunch outing in Harvard Square. At one point he bumped into me in a manner recently joked about by local area artist-blogger @bikeyface in a post about being surprise-bumped from behind by another cyclist. Bill made contact with me because I slowed suddenly and with a slight panic when I realized I might get crashed into by a bike salmon in the lane we were in.

Nothing too terrible happened this time, and I managed to keep my curses contained to my inside-voice. This little stretch on Eliot St in Cambridge has two vehicular lanes and a bike line in one direction (the one we were going in) and one lane in the other direction (which she wasn't using). It's often quite packed with traffic, and I was happily surprised there wasn't a car right next to us adding complication to the situation - I can only imagine whoever was driving near us was sharp and saw what was coming their way, and did the right thing by slowing down. The wrong-way rider did not do the right thing, which would have been to stop and get out of the way as soon as the error was realized.

Read more [Bike lane salmon]

Bike lane safety


Sadly - very sadly, I heard after I got home today that a cyclist was struck and killed in Cambridge near MIT campus. It was on Vassar St off of Mass Ave, an area which I've heard of bike accidents happening at before despite the fact there are bike lanes all around, and so much bike traffic I can't imagine anyone being oblivious to their general, persistent presence.

Not like this. Damnit, I hate hearing about another cyclist's death.

There's a lot that goes through my mind on nights like this one. I can't imagine what awful news it must be to receive if you are the family of this victim. Or, a close friend. A significant other.

I know, that people driving their cars/trucks/SUVs aren't (mostly) psychopaths who want to cause harm to others. I know, that when a driver is involved in a situation where someone dies, they are not prepared for the guilt that follows.

So many times tragedy comes, and it could have been prevented. I can't say tonight what happened in Cambridge, what might have been done differently, what could be learned to keep this from happening again.

Earlier in the evening I had already begun working on a video when I read the news, and it seemed more poignant and timely to patch it together. I'm no wizard with editing, I didn't overlay any audio, I didn't even put in any credits. I just want to point out some of the absurd behavior I come across quite frequently, and if you identify any of these hazards as something you can avoid contributing to, I'd be grateful. And, not doing one of these things may save someone's life, even mine.

In this video I am showcasing bike lane interlopers and vehicles that increased the risk to my safety in lieu of a few seconds of slowing down, or finding an actual parking spot. In the first three minutes I had my lane cut off from me twice by vehicles that didn't appear to check and see if the space was safe to swerve into (and, without providing a signal of their intent to pass around an obstruction). This is the most dangerous move I typically encounter; though, the lane parkers seen later on can make things risky as it forces me into the road where I get to then intermingle with two-ton rage machines.

(More after the break, in the complete post.)

Read more [Bike lane safety]

Helmet cam

2011-12-18 21:53

Last month I purchased a camera I could attached to my helmet. After only two days of wearing it on my commute I caught a near-hit in Harvard Square. For a more complete description of the near-event, read the full post.

Read more [Helmet cam]

Transportation blog

2011-12-18 15:38

This blog space will be used for my stories and thoughts about transportation.

As a bike commuter, I anticipate many posts in the future regarding the struggle for safety during my rides in and around the streets of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville.

Read more [Transportation blog]



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