Monday, May 24, 2010

Hanging out at the Tour of California

I had a great time at the Tour of California circuit race yesterday. In my typical unable-to-focus state, I spent time in a few different places. I started at the TO Mall, where the racers came to check in (and sign autographs). As you can see above, the tiny red carpet is where I got most of my up-close-and-personal shots of the racers. I was situated such that the racers walked right past me up the stairs to the stage to check in, then subsequently turned to face the crowds, giving me a perfect ass shot. You can see what I'm talking about if you skip to the photo of Mick Rogers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dirty clothes

I'm doing laundry right now and it's one of the most exciting things that has happened to me in a long time. Not only did I not have to hoard quarters for a week, but I also don't have to walk down 5 floors to a scary basement. AND I don't have to have wet clothes hanging over every surface available in my room. I can actually hang them in the laundry room.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Project memory lane

I'm working on two things while I am home for the next three weeks: one, not sitting around the house being bored all the time, and two, cleaning up the mess that is our photo closet.

Lounging with my pillow collection

So it's over. I'm home. This morning I sent in my final paper of the semester. I now lay in my own bed at home, listening to the weird sounds that my house makes and thinking about high school. I am looking at my pillow collection. Most of the time I forget that I have a rather intense collection of decorative pillows. Maybe because it is a tiny bit embarrassing. Or because they are impossible to bring to school. Anyway, they are kind of cool. I don't really remember where I got any of them. Only that they are here in my room now in a variety of different colors, . They take up a lot of space. They aren't useful since they are too decorative to be used for actual pillow functions. They therefore represent everything I would hate to have in a New York apartment. But I guess that is what the suburbs are for.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thoughts from a sleepless brain

California is a funny place.

The train station at the Burbank airport (yes, it exists) is MAYBE a quarter of a mile from the baggage claim. All signs point to you getting a shuttle there. You realize once you get on the shuttle that the walk to the shuttle is half way to the train station. And you spent 5 minutes waiting for the one specific shuttle. You should have just kept walking.

There is no easy pedestrian access to anything.

When you get off the plan, you are embraced by a warm, fuzzy combination of smog and fog that just screams childhood.

Less than 3 hours until I'm home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Finals week almost half over.

Je suis fatiguĂ©e.


Sunday, May 9, 2010


I started writing a fabulous blog entry about New Orleans. And then I got distracted thinking about Cajun French. And I watched this. And it was a little bit hilairous (while also terribly sad). And then I decided I should maybe do my homework. Fin.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Don't let the terrorists win

Some people may have heard that there was a bomb found in Times Square on Saturday evening. Terrorism usually scares people. That's what it's meant to do. Even Saturday night was probably not so much about the bomb as it was about the threat of the bomb. Because it almost happened, the city will spend millions of dollars on new security protocol and this and that will, while perhaps not actually doing any good, will at least make us feel safer. There has been one terrorist attack carried out in the past 10 years. I would say that's a pretty good record. Zero in the past five years (assuming this foiled one doesn't count). The thing is, no one can know whether that number is low because NYC isn't a target, or because the security system we already have works pretty well. Since we can't know, we will throw money at it to make people think that someone knows.

I digress. How the City of New York spends its money is not really my business until I stop being lazy and change my voter registration status from its current headquarters at 1051 Rancho Vista Lane. I am much more worried about the way that others fear death-by-terrorism. I know that my maternal grandmother is rolling over in her grave right now; she would have been on the phone with me the first thing Sunday morning when she turned on the news, worried about my vulnerability to terrorism. The first thing I probably would have said to her would be that there's no need to worry about my safety if we are talking about things that go on in Times Square. I avoid the area like the plague. I don't even like to switch trains at 42nd St. But beyond that, though living in New York probably ups my risk for being near a car bomb as opposed to Ventura, that's like saying by putting two of my toes in the tide as it comes in I upped my risk of being attacked by a shark as opposed to standing on the dry sand.

You see, the number of mortalities in New York City every year is somewhere around 50,000 and 60,000 every year. That's 550,000 give or take a few thousand in the last decade. The number of people that have died as a result of terrorism in the city: 2,746 (according to the City of New York). All of those deaths were related to the World Trade Center disaster. While I'm not trying to discredit the lives of those people who did die in that terrorist attack, my point is that they were a mere 0.5% of the deaths this decade. And that's taking it way back just to be able to have a straw to grasp. The number of terrorism-related deaths in 2008 (the latest numbers available): 0. The number of terrorism-related deaths in the past 5 years: 0.

By contrast, almost half of the deaths reported in 2008 were caused by heart disease (24,000 out of 54,000).  Or even, I could be one of the 388 people who died in 2008 as a result of "accident falls." Or the 390 who died of "injury from firearms" (not including homicide or suicide). I don't really go around playing with firearms. But it's entirely possible that I could have an accident fall. I'm not exactly the most stable person to grow a pair of legs. I occasionally trip over cracks in the sidewalk. Way more occasionally than I see other people trip now that I think about it...

On a slightly more serious note, there are 320 people who died in 2008 from motor vehicle accidents. Since I don't see it anywhere else, I can only assume that this means bike accidents as well as car accidents (and many probably include both unfortunately). That's a valid concern perhaps, though I still see the puny 320 out of 54,000 (out of the 8.3 people still alive here in the city) as a better chance to take than the 24,000 that die of heart disease. Biking is a short-term risk perhaps, but a long-term investment in my health.

Now, if I was really going to take a good, educated look at this data, I would need to zone in on my age group. The leading cause of death for residents of NYC between the ages of 15-24 is homicide (164 in 2008), and then accidents (84). But then you break that down into sex, and you realize that of that 164 homicide number, only 12 of those were female. The leading cause of death for 15-24 females is cancer, sitting at a hefty 32 people in 2008. And the thing about cancer is that, well, who says they are worried about their ___ who lives in NYC because she might die of cancer?

*Disclaimer: I am not a statistician. Nor am I a sociologist. I realize that there are a lot of ways of interpreting data, and the risk assessment process for vulnerability to terrorism may be slightly more complicated than "it hasn't happened in the last 5 years so the risk is 0..." My source for these numbers is here. And the larger NYC vital statistics resource website is here. Notice how the website splits space between mortality statistics and most popular baby names. How cutesy.

Also, how cool is this?? I'm just glad that I didn't live in New York between 1830 and 1930...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bike racing according to Murphy's Law, aka a day on the train to NJ

Yesterday's route: 

Room >>> Bike ride to Penn Station >>> Arrive at Penn Station dripping with humidity >>> Walk around the maze of Penn Station to get to NJ Transit >>> NJ Transit to Metuchen >>> Train station to Carrie's house >>> Car from Carrie's to Colts Neck, NJ (involving multiple U-turns to to poor highway planning and signage) >>>  Ride around to warm up only to be told the race starts in 5 minutes >>> Race hard in circles, mostly on roads, one time in the dirt due to poor turning abilities of the cat 4 field (Bingo square) >>> Narrowly avoid a crash in front of me for the second time of the two times I've ever had an uphill sprint finish in a race >>> Privately celebrate my top 10 before looking for my teammates >>> Realize my teammates are nowhere to be found >>> Ride around in circles, finally find one >>> embark on an epic journey to find out if any race official or organizer knows who crashed and what hospital they were taken to >>> Realize no one knows anything >>> Finally figure out it was indeed my teammate, and the other one must be in the ambulence with her >>> Spend 20 minutes trying to figure out what hospital she could be at >>> Spend 20 minutes driving to the hospital >>> Accidentally walk into the senior care center, the hospital is down the road >>> Walk in the hospital to find another cyclist being treated. Not my teammate. >>> Another half hour to get to the second hospital, where we have finally confirmed we know someone >>>Arrive only to find the entire parking lot blocked off by a fundraising event >>> Park in emergency parking >>> Sit in the hospital for four hours waiting for someone to realize we are sitting in a hallway with a bleeding person >>> Realize sitting in the hospital is fruitless >>> Two people walking three bikes from the hospital to the train station >>> Have many thoughts about how the Shore kind of looks like Carpinteria >>> Finally get a train going to Penn Station >>> Sit in train for almost two hours >>> Train to subway, local only of course >>> Room! Shower! Bed! >>> FIRE ALARM >>> Stairs down >>> Wait >>> Stairs up >>> Bed.

That being said, I think the fire alarm was the worst part of my day. All of my skin is intact. And I couldn't have spent the day with better people. So I'll label it an "exciting day." Not good, not bad, but certainly exciting.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A pleasant jaunt along River Road this morning

Today on my normal Saturday ride, I took a moment or two to collect real proof that I don't spend all of my time in an urban jungle. Sometimes I venture out into the suburban forest. Occasionally I see trees that weren't planted by Olmstead. And so I present to you the best of a spring morning in Piermont, NY.

Tweed from below.

The Tappan Zee Bridge in the distance. My favorite bridge north of Manhattan because I like words that start with "Z."

A state park. That I've never been to, but I ride near it sometimes.

Trees, oh my!