Friday, February 29, 2008

The Renaissance of a Charlotte Bike Courier(wait till you hear what he has been up to)

Back in 1999 after 10 months of working for the small courier company Priority 1 with the help of a friend at www.singlespeeds.com I broke off on "my own" to start Ultimate Courier. My exodus left a vacancy at P1 that was filled by Dave Brophy who's last name rhymes with trophy and skiddaladophy. Dave was a reliable addition to the uptown courier scene, a consummate professional and lover of the two and one wheeled machines. Shortly there after he became certified to be a city firefighter which he managed to do full time and maintain a full time part time schedule on the bike. Over the next 5 years or so I would be riding somewhere out in the world when once in a while a fire truck would pass with the horn blaring because Dave told the driver to do so. From 2005 till just a few weeks ago I had not seen him once, then all of a sudden he was back on his fixy uptown with a bag carrying tags for THE Q, formally Citysprint, prior to that A-courier and before that City bike. I asked him if he had left the state because I had not seen him in a few years and he told me that he left the country for the middle east. As it turns out Dave took a contract job as a firefighter working for Wackenhut(the one actually in contract with the USA) in Baghdad Iraq. In 05 while on the puter he found a job that he was qualified for, applied and within a few weeks was contacted by an Army Colonel who asked him if he could be ready to leave in a few weeks. I will not discuss his salary but as you can imagine the first year was well worth it financially for him, so much so he gave up his Fire Department job here and did another year tour after his first was over. He said that he worked 16 hours a day, pretty much 7 days a week in a very hot and environment. Upon his return looking for something fun to do he is back on the bike, let's give Dave a big welcome back. I like meeting the folks that come to work up here with us no matter what company they are with for there is not really competition in what I do. It is even better when one that is worthy goes away and then comes back.

Interesting side note. Late last year I posted http://whereonearthisbill.blogspot.com/2007/10/c-span-report.html about the non fatal blowing up of US General Dorko in the field in Iraq. The most interesting story coming out of that IED attack was that the General was not with military personnel, he was being protected by contracted security form Black Water and Triple Canopy. At that time I had published that NPR and the NY Times reported that the ratio in the War on Terror was 1 civilian contractor to 1 military person. I could not figure that out completely until Dave came back. The night he did I got on the omnipotent Internet and found 77,000 contractor jobs open ranging from mercenaries, to cooks, to firefighters, to medical, to truck drivers, to supply, to logistics...the list goes on. I guess we are out of regular troops(who are less expensive) so we as a nation must sit back, throw money at the problem and act like nothing is really bizarre about the cosmic events of the now. THE RATIO OF MILITARY TO CIVILIAN IS 1 to1.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Charlotte Uptown Development Report

Yesterday I went on assignment to document the status of the new 101 block of N College in the Queen City's Uptown. I started by taking pictures from a top secret location 400 feet up in the 214 N Tryon Hearst Tower which gave me the bird's eye view. Then I went to the ground and made some images from College and 5th. While I was walking along College I talked to a surveyor who told me that the Ritz Carlton was going up to the right and a new 37 story Bank of America Tower would be taking up the center. This fellow also told me that they are still digging into the bedrock to reach an anchoring point even though we have been hearing the explosions for months.
BOA Corp Center, running the N College project
The roof of the adjacent parking garage being used as a staging area
From up high this machine was interesting, at one end it is eating the concrete at the other end it is spitting out dust
Into the future basement of the BOA Tower
A bit wider of an angle
Here are the air conditioning units for the BOA Corp Center in their temporary location, moved to this spot because they were in the way of the dig
Shards of bedrock
Being dumped
Then taken away
She needs to put her helmet on










Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NYC Bike Movers make movie

http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/02/22/streetfilm-nyc-bike-move/#comments

NYC big city of dreams. I received the above link in an email from my dad last night who thought I may find the film interesting. The vignette is under 5 minutes and when it was over I thought that I should post it here for all y'all to see.

POST SCRIPT: After you click link, scroll up to see film.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

THIS HERE'S A PUBLIC BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT....WITH GUITARS!!!

You have the right to a spam free blog
of course if you don't mind a little
customization and moderation...
you have the right to not be hacked
by some global urban wack

A few friends and family have been telling me that me bloggy was not allowing them to post any smart ass comments at all. Then the other day I was hit with some spy ware links that made me realize that if the modern urban hacker can, why then not my friends? I went behind the scenes of me bloggy and found some custom settings that were easy to change making it less likely that the spam will get through and more likely anyone who wants to leave a real message can. You may now leave a message.

Eric made this picture of me coming down the stairs on lower Farlow, look long and hard because you will prolly never see me in front of Capt Jason Morgan again, unless it is of course in line for the keg. Earlier in the ride I watched him pass The Wonderboy(who had car problems yesterday) with such authority that his rear much prettier than Dicky's I9 unearthed a rock. The cantaloupe sized chuncklet flew in the air towards the Wonder Boy's Zion, he swerved but it locked on to the heat of his rig and smashed into the down tube. Rocks hitting down tubes while descending is an uplifting sound with laughter to follow.

Important follow ups to the weekend:

Rich rode the ride on his 29 Thylacine SS at 32 x 17 fixed gear. I cannot stop thinking about the tolerance he has mastered to be able to climb that gear on that mountain. I saw writing on a board in Stockholm once that read Team Dicky is Bonafide, that's a good word for it, what he is I mean.

Erinna Wever did not make the ride with us because she was competing in a 40 mile, that's right 40 mile trail/road foot run from down low in Montreat to the top of Mt Mitchell(highest point east of the Mississippi at 6,684ft above seal level) and back. I think I am more confused by her efforts of the day than Rich's. Both make no sense at all. Congrats to Erinna, she came in 5th!

Monday, February 25, 2008

PISGAH

Pisgah Climb
An eroded spot on a clinging trail, a remnant of the 2004 hurricane season.

A friend I have not seen in forever once told me that this word just sounds nice, Pisgah. Saturday morning not too early Rich, Josh and I headed up to meet Eric and Captain Jason I can ride circles around you on a mountain bike ride Morgan at the parking lot of the fish hatchery. We were greeted by a three legged dog which reminded me of a bike ride I was on in California once where I ran into a three toed dog that wound up changing the direction of my ride and caused me to sleep in a lighthouse that was never on my plan.
The 5 of us took off riding up to Long Branch through a seasonal bike trail to the intersection of Butter Gap and continued on LB to the right. After the little warm up climb we descended down Butter back to LB, climbing back up a little to the gravel intersection for a right hand turn which started the the long climb up to the top of Farlow gap. From here out was all new to me. I had never been to Farlow before and was very excited about seeing the descent that everyone except me has ridden. The climb was endless, like Eric said it would rank against Curtis Creek and it did. Somewhere on the top half of the climb I looked up and saw Capt Morgan descending towards me while I was trial side stuffing me face with half a sandwich. He had already made the climb and wanted to check on the rear of the pack and stay warm. I got back on the bike and slogged upwards as Capt Morgan passed from behind again(he did this a total of 3 times before I topped out on this climb).
Farlow was fun! I was able to ride a lot of the rocky nasty. On the lower of one steep with my saddle in my stomach I was following Eric and all of a sudden I wedged my front wheel in a mini crevasse that was covered in a foot of leaves. I stopped at a really awkward angle and unclipped before I feel over. There was laughter, hoots and funny guttural noises echoing off the rocks. After Farlow we traversed and descended Daniel Ridge and were back at the car in under 6hours after leaving.
That night we slept at Eric and Erinna's house but first there was a BIKE LOVE party to attend by bike of course. Mike Brown came by and then Eric, Erinna, Rich, Josh and I took off on a hilly urban descent for the Wedge Gallery and this bike party. I was amazed at the amount and variety of individual bike people there. I was further amazed that there were prolly less than twenty bicycles locked up out front. I saw Ian The Pony Leone my old friend and former ex employee from Ultimate Courier back in the dizzay. It was great to see him and all of his positive observant force. His roommate was crazy and scary and crazy. Go Pisgah Works! At some point around midnight we got back on our bikes did a little traverse over the bridge and climbed back up to the Wever house. Sleep.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Image

I made the above image the other night when the lunar eclipse was three quarters through. I shot the little big diggy at iso3200 on tripod with remote fob. I was disappointed in the way the diggy was reading the band of orange red light which is the projection of our polluted atmosphere onto the surface of the moon. It was almost as if the burnt orange light was off the charts on the low end(light there but not there?)of the cameras digital capturing capacity. Anyways, I wish I would have been prepared with a roll of 120 black/white for the Hassy film view camera with the 180mm lense.

Hawk or Falcon?




The other day Mein Schatz and I were uptown trying to find out what was happening in the jar. After an hour or so of fountain hopping we looked up on Tryon and saw this large bird of prey hanging out on top of a light pole. We walked to it, took some photos and then followed it for 4 blocks until it perched up on the S College St sign with it's back to us making for an interesting picture. Are the dots on the chest of this bird important to it's identification?


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Entrapment Incident: THE FINAL CHAPTER

As you folks know from two previous over the last two weeks my 600 seconds entrapped in elevator 1 of the One Wachovia Tower gave me in trade a free car wash. As Andrew so kindly pointed out my prize had an expiration date so I felt compelled today to reward the hard efforts of my work bike with a scrubbin, that's right a scrubbin. A scrubbin it got too by a fine fellow named Brian who at first was a litte apprehensive about getting such a fine piece of machinery wet but after I told him I have ridden in the rain a plenty he obliged. I handed him my authentic certificate and explained to him that this bike wash was really important to me because Childress Klien was so nice to give it as a prize. He laughed at me at first but within no time he seemed to be laughing at the act of cleaning a bicycle which he has never had anyone come in to have done up. He wheeled my Fillmore over to the wall where he leaned it nicely and headed for the water hose. Hmm, water. Brian lightly wet the bike and then went to work with a sudsy rag making sure to hit the wheels and spokes. He was laughing while he worked like he was actually having a little on the job fun. At one point all straight faced in between these guttural burst of smiling belly laughter that almost sounded like soul he asked if I wanted wax on it. "Sure", my only retort. Next thing I knew he was hitting the frame with some pink spray in a clear shop bottle and then he toweled it down. the entire operation lasted less than my time entrapped in the elevator but somehow this experience was 1,000 times more. Speaking of Moore, thanks for the images to Moore Photography. Speaking of thank you, Brian thanks for teaching me a little something about how laughing is infectious. Speaking of infectious, thank you HM Queen Rania of Jordan for using your strength to help get 500,000 African children inoculated from infectious diseases. This is where I stop because I can hear you screaming.

Brian and I sharing a laugh

Explaining to Brian that it's okay if the Fillmore gets wet, while he explains to me that he never gets to car wash a bike
A man adjusting his trade
Clean bike, happy guy
"Hey Security, check out my new clean bike!"







Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Justice will prevail

My friend Abdu is an Egyptian immigrant, now American citizen here in the USA who earns his living driving cab 806(cabbies go by the number) for Prestige. Last Tuesday a week ago yesterday shortly after 0900hrs he was first in line at the cab stand on Tryon as I locked up. At the same time his first airport customer walked up with some luggage, Abdu got out of his cab van and helped his client in with the bags. Abdu went back around to the drivers side and went to get back into his van when all of a sudden a very fast moving faux trolley(which cost tax payers 475,000$ per) entered hi lane. Abdu was already in the drivers seat but his door was only about 45 degrees shut when the enormous trolley autos front side made contact with the open edge of Abdu's drivers side door that he was hastily trying to close in a hurry. Boom, a loud crunching noise, the trolley kept going another quarter block before it actually stopped. Abdu was a little shocked by what had happened but he was physically okay.

His car on the other hand as you can see was damaged to the point of not being able to be driven. Preliminary inspection showed that the door was totalled as were door hinge parts on the frame of the car which were crumpled, there was also damage to the front quarter panel. Abdu lost his first 25$ because his fair had to move back to a functioning cab to get to him to the airport. The police showed up first and I recognized the female officer from something amazing that happened in 2001. A few minutes later an official CATS(Charlotte Area Transit System) SUV showed up to do their report and take pictures. The good news for Abdu was that I had already made 20 images of the seen which I will give him today.

The female bus driver was almost mad at Abdu, she was saying that his door was open and that her hitting it was his fault. Contrary to her defensive induced thoughts Abdu's open door had nothing to do with the accident, her speeding, clearly entering his lane and not yielding his right away did. 8 days later Abdu is worried about how the city is going to handle this situation because to date he has not been able to get a report or a clear answer from the city about their responsibility to him and how he earns his livity. Besides the damage to his paid for cab he has accrued extra costs of 50 dollars a day to rent cab 829 so he can try to keep some cash coming in. I feel like the city will take car of his situation, that it is just a matter of time.
The Gold Rush that hit his car

The door would not shut all the way
Bad boys, Bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
Abdu next to his car with the door completely open and completely in his own lane
Official not so official repsonse





Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Langstadt Criterium


video


The above vignette of me racing Jan Ulrich's distant nephew in the town square of Langstadt Germany was shot the night before Becky and I flew home after the TG. As you can see the entire town showed up for the bike race. Most of them thought it was funny that the American who just finished riding across their fine country could not keep up with the kid around the plaza as they watched me almost smack the rear end of the parked auto. It was not really like a race, it was more like a game of tag which I could not win no matter how hard I tried. The laughter is contagious at times like these with bikes on the cobbles in a small town theater. Thanks for the film RT, it is the funniest one I have seen from our transfer and experience across Germany. Oh wait I have not shown that one from the back seat of the Audi doing 225kmh/hr with a hangover on the autobahn yet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Willie is crazy and I will see him today

I read once that there are roughly only less than 18,000 bicycle messengers world wide who put on their bags and hit the streets every day. Never do I take for granted that the labor positions held by bicycle messengers in any city, town, ville, berg or hamlet around the world hold a unique perspective on the day to day goings on of the cultures they are surrounded by. For the past decade as of July 3rd I have been fortunate to be one of those 18,000, my territory is here in Charlotte North Carolina, aka the Jar where I am one of a dozen or so depending if it is raining or not. Every day I get to see something that I would have never have had the chance to had I been working a normal successful corporate whatever job. Before the blog and through the now I usually document these crazy little experiences that could have only happened to me the messenger on paper with pen or pencil. A year ago this spring something entertaining at the least happened in front of me one morning, I wrote it down and found it this past weekend to share.

It started as a normal day except for the flat that needed attention as soon as I get my espresso dropped in a ceramic mug of dark coffee which I did promptly at SB on the square. I sat facing south on Tryon on the bench and pulled out the needed toolage for this flat fix. My morning coffee/caffeine injection outside working on the bike, life is good. As I took a sip of the good brown stuff I heard a funny shuffling lightly abrasive rubbing noise coming from behind and moving slowly towards me. It had rhythm or maybe better yet a firm noise pattern. As the sound came along my right side from behind on the sidewalk an unsuspecting woman was crossing the street from my left on her way to the casa de cafe. It seemed that their paths were about to intersect in less than 10 feet and they would have had it not been for what happened next. The shuffle kick noise was Willie, a local agro but theoretically harmless street man who was enjoying a morning game of kick the big dead flat grasshopper down the sidewalk. As Willie kicked the locust like carcass landed next to my right then he stepped up, turned left and faced the woman who was stepping up on the curb which put me in between both of them. All of a sudden I saw Willie look down at the target as he pulled back his leg for the field goal attempt and booted that flattened grasshopper right for the woman's head. The paper thin bug took flight in front of me a few feet off the ground, nose dived then skidded across the pavers where it came to a stop in front of the woman's feet. Clutching her chest she immediately let out a shy girl scream which I would have as well had I had been in her shoes and then she firmly stated, "That scared the hell out of me." Willie stuffed his hands in his pockets, lowered his head and walked away at a double time Willie shuffle pace like nothing amazing had just happened.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Object from the heavens

The night before last, let's say Valentine Eve I was talking to my dad on the phone staring out my front window at the downpour tempest that was accompanied by green gray skies, lots of wind and lightening. All of a sudden an object fell from above straight down and slammed into the ground less than 10 feet from my mailbox on the grass near the edge of the road. It was hard to see exactly what it was through the rain smeared window but something was definitely out there so with the phone cradled in my shoulder I reached up to slide the window open to get a better look. When I did a piece of wood matter fell off of my left sleeve(I had just got done carrying in an arm load of fire wood), landed in my eye and immediately hurt an eye that has had some serious injuries in the past(long story). I wound up excusing myself from the conversation so I could commence to flushing my eye which after about 15 minutes I was able to get the debris out and my eye to stop with the sharp pain. After that settled down it was on to the evening and I had forgotten about the strange gift from the moving skies that I saw hit the ground until the next morning yesterday when I rode out on my commute. As I turned out of my driveway there it was, a Frisbee sized pile of frozen snow that was 4 inches high in spots. I stopped the bike , laid it down in my yard and then touched the snow turd that had fallen from I dunno somewhere up high. It was cold and granulated, compact and articulate like a little glacier formation. When it hit it splatted a smaller little turd a few feet away that was less in mass, it too was defined and reminded me of glacier snow/ice. I took out the camera and got side tracked for more than a few minutes to make the pictures I'm now sharing. This story is true.














Thursday, February 14, 2008

Trans Germany reflection

video

Cracked out in Oberhof may be a more fitting title for this post by the looks on our faces and our happy body language. Sometime earlier we had finished stage 5 in this former ex Communist Alpine Training Center dubbed Oberhof. There were huge facilities for the training of commie athletes in all the winter sport disciplines from ski jumping, to DH skiing, to Cross country skiing and as the stage ended the course had us riding through a portion of single track that led us past a Biathlon shooting range. Dinner was gravy covered potatoes served with a surprise in the center and beer. It was indeed a great night, the evergreen filtered air in east Germany very clean compared to anything here in the eastern USA incuding our own great mountains.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Change is like a turn in direction, it can only be bad if you miss the turn

More images of the truck. Here is the cab which blew me away with it's overwhelming simplicity.I've been told that the engine can be correctly identified as an in line 6 cylinder motor.


I cannot change the world but I can change the world in me so I rejoice. By doing so these folks have somehow found themselves accomplishing all three in no particular order with this amazing knowledge and sight into the future forward. In April of 2007 Collin asked me to notarize the title on a 1985 diesel school bus he was buying with the intention to convert it to vegetable oil burning and then ride it half way across this fine nation in which we dwell. I obliged and so did he because a few short months later he not only carried out the mission by driving from Austin Texas to Kentucky, to Pennsylvania, to NYC(on Independence Day), to Burlington Vermont but he did it on 5 In God We Trust Units or in other words 5 US American dollars of diesel fuel. The trip was basically broken down to every 800 miles he and his crew would exchange 2 man hours to draw the free viscous liquid into the tanks on the bus. So, the fuel was basically free in exchange for a small amount of labor and the carbon emission is less than half of the former ex diesel only motor.

Fast forward to the now and see what a little collective intelligence can come up with for a contribution to a solution. Collin just helped purchase a 1971 M-35 A2 Deuce and a Half which is presently undergoing a veggie burning conversion with the the help of Forrest, Topher(not the ubiquitous SS mountain cyclist, there is another one) and Paul who drove up to the QC from New Orleans the other day. I had the chance to ride by their South End street side garage yesterday and learn a little something. When this truck is converted in the next couple of days it will be driven down to New Orleans to be loaded on a ship and then sail for Costa Rica. It's final destination is the Osa Peninsula to be the work horse for a major project. Paul, not the one I met today but a Tico who is friends with Collin has some hectares on the peninsula and is presently working the government permitting paper game with officials in Mata Paulo to construct a globally unique self sustainable education facility. They are so smart that they will even be harnessing power from the breakdown of their sewage water which will re enter the environment without harm. The idea is that people will be able to travel from around the world for an educational life experience of this facility on the Osa in exchange for some Colons which will go back into the business end of things. In just over a year from now the truck will be working on the yard moving recycled construction supplies around for the build.

I admire the truth in what these folks are up to because from the truth stems good it seems in all cases. I mean the uncertainty of the future forward is going to be dealt with well by humans like these who will be able to pass on to others the knowledge that change is within their own self against the bigger world which will cause them to rejoice.

Here is the M-35 A2


Collin showing us the fabricated tank bracket and where it will mount


Forrest inspecting the wiring harness that will be used to power the needed fuel pumps


I dunno, the locking hubs looked interesting


Up under the M-35 A2


Lines presently carrying diesel fuel






Forrest up under the truck getting involved The black star













Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Major Urban Debris Field(DF)








I stopped in the awkward traffic light asphalt three lane eddy the other day to take the above images of the Lawyers Rd Debris Field. Early every morning on my East Side Stay Alive bike commute into town I pass through this ever growing and possibly never decreasing Debris Field. Over the years I have observed this urban phenomona related to the dead space of an intersection that allows for the collection of trash like lug nuts, little shards of glass, reflective bits from car grills, smashed cell phones, flattened soda cans, baby diapers and the occasional tumble weave(that's right fake human hair extensions). This area of dead space or as I like to refer to it traffic light eddy area is created because cars go through the wider than necessary intersection in their lanes and never really veer into this space, giving haven for any bits of matter. Over time rains, winds and the wakes of the auto viper continually add matter to this little vortex of debris that never seems to go away. Navigating the Debris Fields on a bicycle can be a little mentally challenging because when it is green you have to sometimes take a line that puts you either in or just in the DF which is loaded with many flat inducing items. When I ride through the DF because I'm forced to stay alive through the intersection I fantasize that I'm Han Solo flying the Millenium Falcon though that cool asteroid belt at MACH 6. Look out for that random shoe, stay clear of the broken shwag beer bottle out the other side and alive, not flat. As time goes by I realize that these local Debris Fields are ony getting bigger and contain trash that I have seen perhaps years ago whence I first took notice of this anomaly.

Monday, February 11, 2008

He is big, the biggest I have ever known.

This is Max, an almost 8 year old male Great Dane that came into our lives in November 2002 when he was a year and a half old. I went for a ride at Poplar Tent Mtn Bike park and when I signed in on the board I noticed that there was a 3 x 5" index card with his for sale notice on it. I called the number later that day and learned that the 18yr old kid trying to sell this dog actually meant that he was for give away to anyone who could provide a better home to this large K-9 than what he was able to do. It turns out that the kid was on his way to boot camp for the US Coast Guard(hahahaha) and he let the dog be in possesion of a relative who had Max tied to a stake somewhere behind a single wide trailer in Iredale County. The following morning this Coast guard recruit drove down with a Max who stepped out of the back of the pick up truck rather malnourished and sort of scared. Once Mary and Danger came over and gave a sniff the pack quickly opened up and accepted the third which within minutes all were frolicking in the back. The kid drove away leaving his dog in a way better situation. Over time Max's health inproved and in the now he is very happy to be part of the pack. He is a gentle giant that has no idea of his physical size which is presently 145 pounds, a healthy weight for his size. Great Danes are a German breed that came about in the late 16th, early 17th centuries to hunt out the wild boar. Apparently men on horseback would follow these big dogs running through the woods as they chased out and exposed the boar for the men to kill. I have taken Max out on the trail and have been chased by him in the rain, what a sight 30 or 50 of these animals would be running through the woods.



The weekend was good, I was able to get in two rides. Saturday was some mountain bike time at Sherman Branch and Sunday I broke out the road bike which needed some maintenance before going out for 2 hours. I wound up on some roads I had never been on and even in the strong wind coming out of the south and west I managed to have a good time in the saddle by myself. The only thing that would make me feel better about my road bike right now would be a new saddle which I will be keeping my eye out for.