Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh Trophy Bikes, and Typewriters

The first ever Type In sponsored by guess which bike shop.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ben's Chili Bowl


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.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 10, 2010


I am working hard to get myself into as many bicycle-related projects at work as possible. Those efforts paid off today with my impending trip to DC to see some of their improvements and meet some of the big-gear mashers of bicycle policy.

Also, I'll have a chance to give bikeshare a try for the first time ever!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Does this need to exist?

Hand pumped espresso machine, or perhaps an elaborate bong. You be the judge.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kickin' Corner 10 years on


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!
Posted by Picasa

Yep, boozing and snoozing

Posted by Picasa

Economic Stimulus Proposal

I think that the City of Philadelphia should give all of its employees the Friday after Thanksgiving off, just like almost every other business in the city as an economic stimulus measure. If I weren't at work, I would assuredly be spending some money somewhere, some time. Instead, I'm just making money, sitting behind my desk, pretending to be working hard.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010



Jomar is the best place to go for crazy deals on crazy stuff. I think they are in the business of selling out stuff from random places that go out of business. I only wish I could have thought of something to do with pyrodex when I was there. Such a good deal!
Posted by Picasa

Makes you wonder if this has been a problem?


It's not like the faint of heart would be buying durian anyway. God bless asian groceries.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not philly, but too cool not to repost

Very cool street art in NYC. Damn that creative empire! We have our little robot-dudes in thermoplastic street adhesive, but New York has us beat in sheer volume of brains and creativitiy.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Dream Job

Started reading this bike review in Cyclingnews because of the bike, but as it turns out Joachim Parbo may have my dream career. Too bad I wasn't born Danish.

Parbo has made his career on the racecourse but back at home in Denmark, he adopts a decidedly slower outlook as a part-time 'bicycle path inspector' for the city of Arhus. Among the job responsibilities are surveying the 560km (350mi) of paved paths, reporting any damage, and generally acting as an ambassador for the fellow commuters he encounters, offering up riding and bike maintenance tips.

Sound like a dream job? Parbo seems to think so.

"I have to oversee 350 miles of bike paths and other infrastructure so I have a lot of ground to cover," he told us just a few hours before leaving the US to head back to Europe. "I can actually train while I'm working!"

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Ride buddy

Chanced upon this friendly little guy last week on a mountain bike ride.  He was catching some rays right in the middle of the trail, and was about as friendly as one can expect from a snake.

Busy, as per usual

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


I've posted before that my phone number at work is just one digit off of the "Vector Control" squad that does all of the rat exterminations and varmint hunting for the city. Usually a good source of amusement over the course of the day. Today I got another call for the same:

Me: Hello, this is Aaron Ritz
Woman: Is this the place for rat inspections.
Me: No, I'm Aaron Ritz and I work for the Office of Transportation and Utilities.
Woman: Where?
Me: The Office of Transportation and Utilities
Woman: Constipation Utilities? That's the strangest office I ever heard of...

Good times at the City of Philadelphia.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jaffa Cakes

One of my favourite snacks from the trip was the ever popular Jaffa Cake. Upon trying to discover more about them, I chanced upon this fabulous wikipedia article about the history of the cake:

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

First Eats

After finding our hotel, we chanced upon a super-tasty sausage stand. Good stuff. Really good stuff. It was a fabulous introduction to a fabulous city.
Posted by Picasa

Who's having a great first day?

We are!!!! Just outside of Harrods London, where I bought the most interesting "cola" which was dandelion and burdock root. Not bad really, for something made from ditch weeds.
Posted by Picasa


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...
Posted by Picasa

Almost as interesting as it looks

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.
Posted by Picasa

Rainbow Brommies

Unfortunately, they're discontinuing my favorite baby pink Brompton, but luckily they have replaced it with a most excellent sage coloration. I can hardly choose my favorite color!
Posted by Picasa

Now I kinda want a torch

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.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


  Didn't really do the flag proud, but hey, that's bike racing. At least I remembered how to fold the flag appropriately when our photo shoot was over.
Posted by Picasa


The Puerile Professor Poopy Pants Pouting at the Palace Pondering Punctures.
Posted by Picasa

Lovely little church

Posted by Picasa

Blockley Hotel

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)


Broadway Tower, in the Cotswolds. It was designed and built as a cool place to throw a party. That's all. They've got some super gargoyles on the corners as well.
Posted by Picasa

Gargoyle in the making?

Jen trying her own face as a gargoyle. Not scary enough, in my opinion.
Posted by Picasa

Right of way

Did I mention that I really liked England? Public walking paths throughout the country, even through farm fields. That is an AWESOME tradition. I've got the strange notion that hikers would get shot at if we suddenly started walking over hill and dale in this way in the US.
Posted by Picasa

York was nice

Some quaint and lovely street in York. I really liked York, and it didn't hurt that they had one of my favorite bike shops from the trip, Cycle Heaven.
Posted by Picasa


We took a distillery tour of Glenkichie scotch. Owned by Johnny Walker's parent company, it's liquor is a chief constituent of Johnny Walker Black label.
Posted by Picasa

Good stuff

Still feeling good after the free shots from the Glenkichie distillery. "Scotch, scotch, scotch. I love scotch. Here it goes now, on down my throat."
Posted by Picasa

Holyrood Park

It doesn't hurt the beauty of a place to have a mountain park in the middle of your city. This was about 2 miles from the center of town, and a mile from our hotel. Chariots of Fire was filmed here.
Posted by Picasa


Edinburgh was very pretty, but perhaps due to where it sat in our trip, gave both Jennifer and I a kind of unwelcome vibe. It probably didn't hurt that most of the buildings were still recovering from years or coal smoke like this church here.
Posted by Picasa

The Calthorpe Arms, the Cheers of East London

We spend our last night in London with a pint or two in this lovely pub on Grey's Inn Road. The place was about as quaint as you could ever ask for, with 5 people total in the bar, shooting the shit with the bartender. Everyone knew everyone else, and they were all making fun of the guy who was sitting in the corner watching a Family Guy rerun. He laughed mightily as he tried to explain the characters to the other folks. "The dog is called Brian, and he's probably the smartest character on the show..."
It was awesome.Posted by Picasa