Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The game is afoot

It's always agonizing to prepare a resume for a new job.  There is the uncertainty of what to highlight in one's career, the endless permutations of formatting and font and all the other BS that will help your name stand tall among the pile of others just like it, vying for the same job.  It's even more agonizing to prepare a resume for a job that you already have.  There is a sense of hurt that even though you've done your best, and had success, that they may not have need of your services in the next rodeo.

Well, I got over it.  It's only fair that a new mayor can put his or her stamp on their team.  Speculation is rife in the office and while I'm not particularly worried that they will find someone who knows how to run a bike share program better than me, I'm definitely worried that the new administration will break up our band.  MOTU has been such an awesome place to work, and my colleagues are great.  If only we could keep building on what we've got, I'd be happier.  As my old boss used to say, "Philadelphians embrace change, as long as it looks exactly like it did before you changed it."  I guess I'm becoming Philadelphian in that sense.

Monday, November 23, 2015

First Degree Connection

I had an odd experience the other night.  I'd just been to a presentation at DVRPC where I gave the standard presentation about all of the work we are doing to make Indego bike share a representative and socially equitable program in which the race and income of our users mirrors that of Philadelphia as a whole.  I was on a panel with a guy from Rutgers, Charles Brown, (no joke, generally goes by Charlie) who presented his team's research on the disparate impacts that crashes have on people of color.  The upshot: if you are poor or black or brown or poor AND black or brown, your odds of being hit or killed in a car crash are dramatically higher than if you're white and middle income or higher.  In places like New Jersey and the Philadelphia Metro, the maps of crashes can often look like the maps of 'communities of concern' as they've been dubbed.

I was impressed by the work, and particularly by Charlie's presentation.  I work hard on making sure that when I give a presentation I'm engaging and that I use whatever media I've got at my disposal to the best of my ability. Over the years, I've gotten pretty good, and I'm generally to the point where I think that I'm one of the better presenters on any given panel that I do.  I did a passable job last week, but Charles' absolutely rocked.  Clear, compelling and well supported by the graphics in his powerpoint.  I was in presentation envy and following our meeting, was pleased to find that he'd sent me a connection request through LinkedIn.  I'm not much for social media, but I do dabble enough to understand that it could be useful to cultivate this connection, so I clicked on the link.  Charlie and I were now connected, and since I was in the portal where one accepts pending invitations, I started clicking through the requests.  Several were from people who I'd never heard of, several from some who I didn't want to hear from again and then I found one waiting in my inbox from Wade Frank.  He'd sent the request some months ago and I'd never really bothered to respond.  No particular snub there, I hadn't responded to 10 or 15 other people who'd been patiently waiting in my inbox.  I hadn't seen Wade since he'd moved back to Des Moines from Ames where he worked for my dad while he was finishing, or generally not finishing, his dissertation at ISU.  I'd always liked Wade and I'll always think about him now in my work.  Not because of our connection on LinkedIn, but because I think that I'll always be thinking about how to encourage more people to ride bicycles and to help more people stay safe on the roads.  It's a strange coincidence that my reminder of him was the result of a poignant talk about road safety.  Cheers to you Wade, and goodbye.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Historical information.

Yesterday I got a text from my friend and former colleague Mardi who, in an effort to age gracefully, started with a new personal trainer.  The catch was that the new trainer was pushing her to do things that her body didn't like, such as moving side to side, rather than front to back.  Lateral motions generated enough winces and ouches that he told her to stop and go see a doctor, something was not right with how her left hip was working.  On the minus side, Mardi was headed to Rothman for some x-rays and consultation, on the plus side, I COULD BE THE BEST FRIEND EVER SINCE I'D ALREADY HAD MY HIP RE-JIGGERED AT ROTHMAN!

We talked for a good 30 minutes about all the various procedures and doctors and pains and aches and really connected on the sort of stuff that connects people who are getting older, slower, and also have no kids.  I was able to forward on my blog posts from 2013 when I'd undergone my various surgical and therapeutic procedures.  It made me realise, or in fact, re-realize how this blog has become a lot more like a diary than the communication tool that it started as.  I began it when we were in Japan, 12 years ago, as a way to keep my friends and family in the loop with how we were doing half a world away.  Supposing that my blog isn't magically wiped out in the next economic catastrophe or during the GoogleBook merger of 2018, I would like to keep it as a log of my adventures and deeds.

But because I'm 'busy' and 'committed' and 'a hard worker' I rarely take the time to write anything here anymore.  It is in this vein that I'm going to (and seriously for real guys/friends/family/future Aaron) post some things that I should have gotten around to long ago.  There is a set of posts from Iceland over this past summer, more and better posts from our trip to Germany, some ruminations from our continual projects around the house, a set of great shots of sunsets from across the Great Plains and some ruminations from my time spent as a crew-member on RAAM for Meurig in 2013.  I'm going to try to put them in the general order of when the events happened for the better finding later.  First day of the next part of my life, where I remember and write about the last part of my life, starts now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Iceland for all - Post 1

Aside from the fact that it would probably wreck the place, everyone should go to Iceland.  Jennifer and I went in mid June and it was stunning.  We arrived in the bright mid morning sun at 5:30 AM and then proceeded in to Reykjavik to rent our Kuku Camper.  Watch the video to get an idea of how awesome they are.  The morning started off well, I took a nap on a municipal running track and ate a bunch of weird Icelandic liquorice,  Jennifer read a bit and lazed in the sun.  Then we walked over to the Kuku headquarters for them to outfit our car.  Everything was easy and cheap and everyone spoke better english than they had any rights to.  The highlight of the morning was when they tested out the camp stove in our car before sending us off and discovered a thrilling gas leak around the canister body that resulted in our Kuku team member swearing in a couple different languages and throwing the canister and flaming stove into the street where it exploded in a fireball.  Cool.

Then we drove to the Bonus supermarket and stocked up on a bunch of junk food and snacks for the week and then headed out of town. Though the scenery was largely fantastic right out of Reykjavik, I fell asleep pretty much as soon as we headed out on the road.  One major plus about touristing in a place where the sun doesn't set is that jetlag isn't really an issue. I napped a bit and then we woke up by this giant blue volcanic pool near some bubbling fumaroles and we got out and wandered around.

We got back in and since we only had 23.5 more hours of light left, headed straight to the south coast of the island to explore some waterfalls off of Highway 1 (FYI--there really isn't a Highway 2 in Iceland, though there are a number of other lesser roads)

We ended up following a bunch of tour buses to this cool waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. The grass was so lush and green, it was no wonder that aside from tourists, the dominant mammalian life was sheep.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


So, all of your friends are skinny cyclists?  Nobody has arms bigger than pencils?  Feeling wantonly DIY?

That's why the good lord created a little thing we like to call mechanical advantage.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hell of a month

Growing up, April was always a month that I looked forward to. My birthday falls right in the middle of the month, the weather tends to warm up nicely, nights get shorter, days longer. It was always a time to get outside and have some fun. Then, adulthood gradually began to sink in and the nature of the month started to change bit by bit. First it was in grad school. I remember a guy saying something like, "April sucks. It's always finals and deadlines."  Sure enough, April rolled in and I was up to my eyes with papers and projects. That was kind of a drag but I didn't really want to think of my birthday as a harbinger of crappy times.  What I've settled on is that April is really about change. Of course, I'm projecting backward and cherry picking some important dates but there is a long list of big stuff happening in April.  I was hired for my job at MOTU in April of 2010, in April of 2012 I moved full time to working on bike projects. In 2013 we were finalizing the business plan for bike share, last April we announced our plan to deliver a system to Philadelphia by this spring, and lo and behold, we delivered a few weeks ago.  The following week, my boss, who has been instrumental in most of my successes here at work announced that he was departing the City.  Woof.  

I've gone from fully focused on one project to fully scattered on the little details that surround the operating of a bike share system, and without the guidance that I'd expected.  On the plus side, this is a good chance for me to take some time to think about what I actually want my future to look like.  I'm still thinking.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I love my co workers

Cara and Carniesha are awesome. They made me a pep-talk mirror.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Do you eat hot pockets?

It was good.

And lo; the Lord provideth not only the hot pockets themselves, made of soy be they, but the means by which to heat them.

Now to find the prophesized 120v outlet...

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Work trips can be great if they involve cool factory tours.

On Friday, I was taking a tour of Kiosk, the company that manufactures the B-cycle stations.
They do good work, and I'm confident that if things get screwed up with the launch, it will not be for lack of preparation on their part.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Last night in the mole hole.

Last night was the last time we will ever sleep in the Mole street house. It was the first house we bought nearly 9 years ago.
Change always makes me melancholy, this one is no different.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

That is what kind of day it is.

My motivation to ski petered out around 9pm. The sake is delicious though. Now the plan is to get up early and go for a quick schuss tomorrow before work.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Saturday, January 03, 2015

New years Eve, Erfurt.

I think that there is a real similarity between how the Germans and that Japanese operate. Both counties are known for their strict adherence to the rules, and a general cool demeanor. However, throw in a holiday, and all bets are off. Germans do not mess around with new years. We got off the tram at about 11:30, and watched as hordes of drunks descended upon the domplatz, or the cathedral square. Each group had somewhere between an arm full and a shopping cart full of fireworks.
For the next 2.5 hours it was like daylight.

Friday, January 02, 2015

At home with the Asa-nator

So one thing that I am too old for is back to back all night travel.
We flew into Munich and arrived on a Sunday morning, and then, since Erfurt was another 4 hours away by train, we decided to just power through and take the longer, 7 hour overnight train Sunday night so that we could arrive in time to hang out with Asa and Erika on Monday morning. This would have been fine if we had started off well rested, but coming off of jet lag and a day spent wandering in the cold, not do good.
We got to Erfurt about 7 AM, which anyone who knows my brother can tell you is simply to early to drop by his place. It is also too early to expect to check into a hotel room, so we dropped our bags at the front desk and wandered back out into the still-dark morning. Erfurt is nice in the dark, but not if you are dead tired and cold. We found a backerei and waited until the sun peeked out about 9. When we finally got to their place, Asa had gotten some eggs and coffee together and we had an awesome breakfast and caught up, and then promptly crashed and fell asleep on their bed for a few hours.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Winter in Munich

Munich was pretty but cold. We arrived early in the morning, made it through customs and then headed in to town on an immaculately maintained, spanking new train. We wandered around the city for a while and then walked through the Deutches Museum. Warm? Check. Time consuming? Check. Largest indoor exhibition of mining and mineral extraction through the ages? Check.

We also hiked up the stairs to the top of the tower to Saint Peter's Church, and admired the cold, but satisfying view.  The act of climbing the stairs had a nice warming effect as well.

This has been the first time that we have been abroad with a smart phone and data plan, and it has honestly been really nice. Navigating new cities is always hard, and particularly in Europe, where roads don't really trend to go just one cardinal direction.


After a looooong day and night of travel to Germany, Jennifer and I ate a super hearty Bavarian feast. Oh yeah, and some beers.