Monday, December 20, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
At last I have been to the mecca of meaty eats, Ben's Chili Bowl on U street in Washington DC. I was down in DC for the day on Friday to check out their bicycle infrastructure, and lunched at this fine establishment. Eating one of these on a regular basis is not advised, but when it's 35 degrees and windy, they are a godsend of protein and salt.
Professionally, the trip was good as well. DC is kicking the pants off of us in every respect bike related save one: we have more bike racks. We have a lot more places for people to put their bikes when they're out and about. The situation at Union Station is particularly weak: the bike rack is on a stretch of unused driveway and is not even bolted to the ground.
In other respects though, DC is leagues ahead of most cities in the country. Helping them in that pursuit are their money and wide streets. Since the District functions as both a state and a city, they have a bit more control over their spending than we do in Philly. That, and they just have more of it. Wheras we have about 1.5 staff people devoted to bicycle and pedestrian issues, they, in a city half the size and population, have 6 people fully devoted to bicycle infrastructure projects. Wide streets also make it much easier to take lanes of travel for biking without paralyzing the urban core. Of course they all complain of congestion and tight quarters, but it's really nothing compared to our diminutive rights-of-way in Center City Philadelphia.
That said, they are doing amazing work. Bike sharing with 100 locations across the city and more to come online next year, bike lanes everywhere, a bicycle locker-room at the train station and two new and totally cool projects including a separated cycle track (divided from cars by a parking lane and bollards) and the new two way bike lane down the center of Pennsylvania avenue mean that the president can ride in comfort from his house all the way to the Capitol.
I've put some pictures up in my Picasa account for the transit nerds out there.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Also, I'll have a chance to give bikeshare a try for the first time ever!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Totally should have posted some of these pics weeks ago, but Brendan and Meghan were up for the weekend of November 5th and 6th. Good times were had by all, and an excessive amount of food and drink were consumed. (Meghan seems to be in the midst of digestion in this shot.)
We did the standard tour through the city, which included the Italian Market, Reading Terminal, and the re-opening of the South Street bridge, all of which were reasonably fun. Best part of the weekend was probably making pizzas in our kitchen. Assembling the ingredients that we'd procured lovingly throughout the day. We also did a fair bit of boozing, polishing off nearly 2 bottles of sake, and many many beers. You'll see the results in other pics, but we can safely say that not all that much has changed in the intervening years. Put a few drinks in me and I'm out on the couch!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
But good things have come of my busyness. Last week the City of Philadelphia hosted a Cities for Cycling event: experts from San Francisco, Portland, NYC and DC all came to share their experiences on building bicycle friendly cities and I was essentially the point guy for the project. I have not been that busy since graduate school. I spent gargantuan amounts of time coordinating people's schedules, making sure that we had a working powerpoint, getting lunches lined up and plotting the route for our tour of Philly's bike infrastructure. By the end of their two day stay, I was pretty exhausted, but totally stoked about our next steps as a bike friendly city. Check out the presentations here:
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Under UK law, no Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on plain biscuits and cakes —
they are "zero rated". Chocolate covered biscuits, however, are subject to
VAT. In Ireland, plain biscuits and cakes attract the "reduced" rate.
Chocolate cakes and biscuits attract the "standard" rate. McVities classed
its Jaffa Cakes as cakes, but in 1991, this was challenged by Her Majesty's
Customs and Excise and the case ended up before the courts. This may have
been because Jaffa Cakes are about the same size and shape as some types of
biscuit, and particularly because they are commonly eaten alongside, or
instead of, traditional biscuits. The court asked "What criteria should be
used to class something as a cake?" McVities defended its classification of
Jaffa Cakes as cakes, producing a 12" (30 cm) Jaffa Cake to illustrate
that its Jaffa Cakes were simply miniature cakes. McVities argued
that a distinction between cakes and biscuits is, among other things, that
biscuits would normally be expected to go soft when stale, whereas cakes
would normally be expected to go hard. It was demonstrated to the Tribunal
that Jaffa Cakes become hard when stale. Other factors taken into account by
the Chairman, Potter QC, included the name, ingredients, texture, size,
packaging, marketing, presentation, appeal to children, and manufacturing
process. Potter ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake. McVities therefore won
the case and VAT is not paid on Jaffa Cakes.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Something like Giant Labia Eats Worm from Space might be the name that I gave this one in my head as we walked through the Tate Modern museum. I actually liked some of the big sculptures a lot but jet-lagged is not the ideal state in which to view modern art. Or is it...
We were invited out to the Brompton factory for the presentation of the Queen's Award for Enterprise, given to the plucky and courageous folding bicycle savant pictured in the background. Andrew Richie is his name, and he is one of the few people I've ever met for whom the title "Inventor" is the most approprite thing that one could say. He's a kook.
I absolutely love factory tours. For reasons of which I am not quite sure, Brompton brazes their bikes rather than welding them. I speculate that this might be just for a retro appeal, or it might just be some staunch curmudgeony habits. Can't say really.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
This was our home base for the two days we spent in the Cotswold village of Blockley. This was by far my favorite part of the trip. As ultimately English country as it comes, and just stunningly pretty. More sheep than people in these parts, and our hotel had been in operation for something like 400 years (under new management)