Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sad, Shocked,and Angry: RIP Phil Smith

Some of you know I've been on the WeLL for a long time. The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link was one of the first online communities and is still one of the most significant. Started by futurist Stewart Brand in 1985, it quickly became an online conclave of writers, thinkers, technology geeks, and, yes, Dead heads. Over the years, the community has remained a spirited, tight, loyal place that many from the outside find hard to penetrate. It's still a daily part of hundreds of lives and I have friends across the country -- many I've met face-to-face -- that make me feel part of their families, activities, hobbies and trials. On the WeLL, we discuss issues, argue politics, and offer thoughtful (and sometimes silly) discourse on every topic under the sun. It's an amazing place for research and to access some of the top doers and thinkers in almost every hobby or interest. I've been honored to host the Sailing conference with my sailing mentor and SF Bay sailor Paul Kamen for many years.

Over the years, the WeLL has become famous for a number of Internet concepts: You Own Your Own Words which means no one has the right to repost or use anything you may have written on the WeLL; on the WeLL, no one is anonymous, you have to give an actual name to login; and in one of the WeLL's shining moments, the parenting conference was nationally recognized as magazine editor Phil Catalfo chronicled his son, Gabe's battle with leukemia. If I didn't know these people before, I shared their heartbreak, and knew them afterwards.

Yesterday, in the worst of tragedy, fellow WeLL member Philip Butler Smith was killed on a 45-day cross country bicycle trip from Seattle to Washington DC. It was day four of the trip. Phil was a sailor, a cyclist, and father extraordinaire and had filled us all in on the trip. (He was planning to blog from the road.) The trip was part of Adventure Cycling's 30th Anniversary taking 30 or so cyclists across the US. Phil was struck by a car on an open and wide stretch of road outside Davenport, Washington. He was on the 5-foot wide shoulder riding a recumbent bicycle when a woman (apparently unimpaired) struck him. He died at the scene.

I'm angry because yet another responsible, experienced cyclist has been killed in the most useless of situations. Bike trips are a great way to spend a long vacation -- I have friends who have biked through Ireland, Italy, France, and all sections of Indiana, the Midwest, and the West. Organized trips are generally considered pretty safe. We don't know much about what happened, but in an apparently wide open stretch of road, it's a mystery to me how the front end of this woman's car could have come in contact with Phil and his bicycle. It's tragic and unbelievable and makes me unspeakably pissed off. Yes, open road cycling can be dangerous (as can any sport) but an organized group of cyclists should be able to share a wide, safe, open road with cars and still not take their lives in their own hands. There's so much we don't know -- how far was he separated from the group, whether they had a car escort with them, how well was his bike marked, or whether it was a factor that he was on a recumbent bike. However, at the end of the day, none of these are a cause of this senseless tragedy. It makes me pissed off to even be driving a car. I'm furious, sad, shocked, and angry.

Please, when you see cyclists, pay attention. When you see cyclists, slow down. Have some respect, and be smart. Give them some room, and prevent your own tragedy. RIP Philip Butler Smith.

More from Washington news.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Movie Meme

Final Update! And this round in closed. Thanks for playing, everyone! Two no one guessed -- #4 was High Society (the movie musical version of the The Philadelipha Story and Grace Kelly's last film also starring Bing Crosby, a young Frank Sinatra, and Louis Armstrong.) #5 was Proof of Life with Russell Crowe as a ransom/rescue specialist and based on the Vanity Fair story Adventures in the Ransom Trade.

X-tra Rant didn't tag anyone specifically, but this meme was pretty cool so I thought I'd take up the gauntlet. Here's how it works:

A. Pick 11 of your favorite movies.
B. Then pick one of your favorite quotes from each movie.
C. Post the quotes on your blog.
D. Have commenters guess what the movie is.
E. Either strike out the quote once it has been correctly identified or place the guesser’s user name directly after the quote.
F. Extra points for knowing the actor or character’s name.

Movie 1: The Godfather (Anonymous),
"I don't want my brother coming out of that toilet with just his dick in his hands, alright?" Sonny Corleone (James Caan)

Movie 2: The Big Easy (torporific)
"New Orleans is a marvelous place for coincidence."

Movie 3: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Jason266)
"That's all John, sweetheart."

Movie 4: High Society
"There's a dark horse in this here race and my boy's running a slow third."
"You'll find it under Harvard Classics. Just give Darwin a little nudge. "

Movie 5: Proof of Life
"You and me, we open our own shop. I run New York, you run London. We meet in the Caymans once a month to visit our money!"

Movie 6: Star Wars (original, now called Episode IV) (Anonymous)
"It'll be just like Beggar's Canyon back home!" Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill)

Movie 7: It's a Wonderful Life (Kevin)
"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!" George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart)

Movie 8: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Curmudgeon)
After a girl drives off leaving him stranded: "This never happened to the other fella." James Bond (George Lazenby)

Movie 9: Goldfinger (Curmudgeon)
"My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs! " James Bond (Sean Connery)

Movie 10: True Lies (Joanne gets the movie and Brian D. gets the speaker)
Explaining their screw up to their boss: "It's a scale really, with a perfect mission at one end and a total pooch screw at the other, and we're right about in the middle." (Faisil, the tech guy)
"The guy is a used car salesman! This just keeps getting better and better!....I'm sorry, Harry, I know this is hard for you. But you gotta admit if this was me you'd be laughing your ass off!" Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold)

Movie 11 (also a million great quotes from this movie:) Pulp Fiction (Joanne)
"So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass."

"Hey, you, Flock of Seagulls." (Jules)

"Check out the big brain on Brett!" (Jules)

"Garçon means boy." (Waitress)

"Sorry baby but I had to crash that Honda." (Bruce Willis, the boxer)

Oh, I could go on for hours. Go forth and guess. With this meme, I thee tag: Erudite Redneck, Jason at Foursquare 266, Nick at Torpor Indy, Brian at Confessions of an Exhausted Mind, and, hmmm, Lemming.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Danskin Danskin Everywhere

I've been a little distracted lately. Besides being crazed with work and regular life, I found myself agreeing to do the Danskin Triathlon in Chicago, July 9 (known to all my friends these days as "this nutty triathlon".) It's a sprint distance tri -- 750m swim (.5 mile)/20k bike (12.4 miles)/5k run (3.1 miles). When I started 4.5 weeks ago, any one of those activities in a day was a good workout. But all three? In one morning? I do a fair amount of biking in the summers, and knew I could finish 5K of walking/jogging, but the swimming was a bit of an unknown. I hadn't been in a pool to actually, you know, *swim* since junior high. But I did some research, put together a training plan, and now that I'm out there, I'm feeling much more confident. The run is slow -- a jog for me, the biking is under control, and the swim? The first day I swam at the IUPUI natatorium, I thought the lifeguard was going to make me get out of the pool. I didn't think I'd make it past the halfway mark of a 50-meter length. Eventually all those swimming lessons from summers past kicked in and now, I'm getting through my 750 meters like a champ -- a crawling/backstroking/ huffing/puffing champ. The event is scored beginning to end including transitions between swimming, biking and running. My goal is to finish in 3 hours or less.

But this week, I started to get nervous -- OK, *scared*. The logistics seem overwhelming. Saturday features mandatory registrations, events, bike racking, car parking, body marking, and more. What if I find out something at the last minute that changes all my preparation and planning? Sunday -- event day -- begins around 4:00 a.m. I'm petrified that I'll forget something, or miss a shuttle bus, or be in the wrong place, or screw up in some way before I even *start* the event. I'm trying to cure this fear with research, race reports, books, and good preparation. I'm practicing my transitions (ever tried to put on bike shorts when you're wet from the pool?) and planning to head to Chicago next weekend to check out the course. Working out helps -- at least I know I can control that part. (This week I've done 2 swims, 2 5K runs, 2 bike rides (one 12 m, and one long, 20-25 miles), 3 yoga classes, 1 massage, 2 sessions of weight training, and a pedicure. Pedicures count as motivation.)

The good news? I'm four weeks out and feeling good. Heart rates are in target ranges, I've had no injuries, and I've built a lot of strength. (You boys should never discount yoga. It can kick your ass.) I also have begun to experience what all girls know to be true -- your boobs are the first to go as you lose bodyfat. The bad news? No one has yet agreed to be waiting for me on the finish line with a pitcher of margaritas and a funnel. But I hold out hope. This is what I *really* need a training buddy for.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Give Those Bikers a Break!

Hey, kids, looks like the annual summer ritual of cars hitting bicyclists has started already. IPD reports an unidentified man was hit and killed riding his bike overnight on the southside. Now, I drive a car, too, and know how easy it would be to miss someone on a bike (or even walking) at night. I'm guessing he had no lights. Plus, it was 2:00 a.m. And why is he unidentified? Because he had no ID.

If you ride a bike, make sure you're very smart about it. Sure, it's a driver's responsibility not to hit you, but you can be just as *not dead* by making smart riding decisions.

* At night, make sure you have lights on your bike. Headlamps if you ride at night are hugely necessary, and I even recommend one of those flashing lights for your seat post pointing and flashing behind you. You can get small kits that easily come on and off for night and day use.
* Make sure you ride smart. Obey traffic laws and all that, but try to avoid streets that are very narrow with heavy traffic. Adjust your routes accordingly. I've been known to ride on an unused sidewalk or two if the street (or drivers) were a little scary. Don't be too right and dead anyway.
* Make sure you wear a helmet. Yes. They look dorky. Yes, you look like a big, adult goober. However, you will be alive if a car hits you. And don't discount operator error. The worst bike accident I've had as an adult was due to a "braking error" and luckily, I was wearing a helmet, or it would have been my head cracked and not the plastic.
* Don't wear headphones. I've been known to listen to NPR from time to time on the Monon trail, but even with only one ear bud in, it's a significant distraction. You must know what's going on around you and you can't do that with headphones on a bike -- especially on a city street.
* Stay to the side of the road. Yes, I know what they say in driver's ed, but a bicycle can't really handle a lane on its own. Stay to the side, let cars pass, and look out for car doors opening as you pass. BTW, bike lanes in Indy are pretty useless regardless of how city officials tout the city as bicycle friendly. It's kind of pointless to have them downtown if they let cars *park* in them.
* Don't ride impaired. This may seem like a no-brainer, but um, don't ride your bike drunk. At two in the morning.
* Always carry your ID when you ride. If you don't carry your ID and are hit by a car, the hospital staff will have a really hard time figuring out who you are (not to mention whether or not you have health insurance.) If you're in an accident, you'll need it for the police. And a mobile phone is helpful, just in case. (I carry my driver's license, keys, $5 in cash, and a mobile phone in a small plastic ziplock bag in a tiny case just under my seat post every time I ride.)

I'm all for placing blame on car drivers when necessary, but as bikers, we have a responsibility too. Be a safe rider and smart rider, especially if you ride at night. Hopefully, this will the only bicycle fatality we see all summer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mugshot of the Day

Somebody looks grouchy! Because if you have to have a mugshot, you should at least have a snarly look on your face. Plus, his name is "Snook".

Going to Hell in a Handbasket

Maybe it's just my morning mood, or maybe it's the dreaded 06/06/06 date but what the H-E-Doublehockeysticks is going on around Indianapolis? At what point is someone going to start asking questions about the IPD, their ability to fight (and even prevent crime), and Brizzi's tactics as crime-fighting-overlord in the city. To wit:

Another shooting on the Eastside -- This time with four people in the home (including one child), three adults are shot, one seriously injured during a ... wait for it ... robbery on the east side. Only a mile from the house where *7 people* were shot in killed in a robbery last week, here you have the same MO, only this time no one died. I can see why a criminal would think a home invasion would be so lucrative because it obviously worked so well the last time!

"But, they shot first!": Stuart and Turner, the two suspects in last week's mass killing, are finally starting to talk. And what we've learned so far? Well Stuart says one of the victims drew a gun and was about to shoot Turner, so Stuart shot first. Turner took care of the rest. Proving once again that we really are still all in first grade.

And in another head scratcher: An IPD officer is arrested for DWI for a second time in a year and still on the force. Last time, after an off-duty security job in Broad Ripple, this guy got in his car and drove away under the watchful eyes of his fellow officers who promptly arrested him. This time, he was caught weaving down Keystone -- having just come from Broad Ripple. After the last incident, he was suspended for 45 days and sent to treatment. Now, I'm all about second chances, but why is no one asking the obvious question: How is this guy still an IPD officer?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What's Your Best Feature?

If you haven't heard yet about the .5 mm Project from local photographer Keith Clark, you will. Clark, an architect by day, started the project in February with a mission to find and photograph 100 people and their favorite body parts. So far, he's shot arms, legs, eyes, bellies, backs, shoulders, feet, and more. ("It's funny," he says. "I can't believe I haven't had a guy say his penis is his favorite body part yet.") The photos are fun, beautiful, and ultimately, a very telling exploring self-image by focusing on what people like about themselves, instead of what they dislike.

Look for mentions of Keith's project in a June issue of InTake (he photographed several of the editors and writers) and the July Indianapolis Monthly. He's had one gallery approach him about a show and I think a launch party would be a real hoot. But for Keith, it's about the art, the exploration and the people. He's photographed 60-70 subjects so far and looking to finish in the next couple of months. If you're interested in participating, contact Keith Clark though his "subjects" page.

And yes, those are my legs. My favorite body part.