The bicycle: Car or Pedestrian?

The debate has been serious this summer. From touchy questions on sides of buses to annoying comments on blog posts to occasional legal debate. The community has been vexed by this question: Is a bicycle a car or a pedestrian? To help shed light on this problem, beerdrinker has gone undercover, actually riding his bicycle most days, frequently more than 25 miles.

I’ve been thinking about this question for quite awhile, but it really came to a head (or mine) when Webtrends posted their controversial question on Portland’s public transportation: Should cyclists pay a road tax? The confusion was evident most clearly in a response to that question…”Cyclists should pay $.10 every time they change roles.” or something like that. But it’s been prevalent in conversation around the internet and reality for a long time.

With more people riding bikes due to higher fuel costs, better and/or more vocal communities, and peer pressure, the answer to the debate is becoming more pressing. Drivers are more frustrated, and more vocal. Bike lanes are taking up more precious road space. Green boxes are making colorful areas near busy intersections to the dismay of automobile owners. At some places, cyclists even have their own signals, and in others roads dedicated to them (and pedestrians).

Sometimes it becomes necessary to take a step back from the problem to really see what its inner workings are, and how they fit together. So I looked up the terms.

A pedestrian is a person traveling on foot.
wikipedia – pedestrian

An automobile or motor car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor.
wikipedia – automobile

Those are pretty clear, and pretty general. There are unfortunately vehicles that do not fit into either classification. In fact, the subject of this article does not.

A bicycle is neither a pedestrian nor an automobile!

Well, dangit. I guess we need to be asking a different question, like “where do cyclists belong?” But first, let’s continue the analysis to make sure we’ve covered all our bases.

A bicycle is like a car in many ways. It has wheels and a passenger (sometimes 2-3). It moves faster than pedestrians typically move. It will hurt a pedestrian if it hits them.

At the same time, there are a number of differences between cars and bikes. A car can accelerate and travel far faster than a bike. A car propels itself. Typically, cars do far more damage in collisions than bicyclists, and cars will universally win contests of strength. Like a turtle, cars have a crunchy, protective outside and a chewy center, whereas cyclists are a bit more like a delicious chicken leg with a hard lower part and a moist, fleshy upper portion.

Comparing a pedestrian to bicycle, we again see similarities and differences. They can both fit on sidewalks. They both weigh about the same. They are both self-propelled. Yet, bicycles can move faster than pedestrians and do have pokey hard parts. In a battle between cyclists and pedestrians, the cyclist would have the upper hand. In addition, they typically gain the element of surprise.

At this point, we have pretty much established that a bicycle is neither a car nor a pedestrian, having some qualities that are common to each, and some dramatic differences. In the future, I will explore how cyclists fit into a system that has difficulty seeing the grey areas.

Akoha earns negative karma (updated…and less negative)

My wife wanted to support what sounded like an interesting idea. Pay it forward cards. I’m not going to go into the idea, because they’re not worth my time. It sounded like fun, she ordered some. Somehow she ended up with the wrong cards. She called, they blamed her. A company that deals in karma points should have a somewhat better perspective. Akoha, I’m playing it forward to you…you fail.

UPDATE: Akoha has since done the right thing. Good jorb. We’re looking forward to the cards, and hope they are as enriching as anticipated.

Facebook isn’t Twitter

I’m a fan of social media sites. Sites like twitter and facebook are loads of fun, and great for staying in touch with old friends, new friends, and potential friends. In a recent post I commented on what I felt were the differences between facebook and myspace. In the end, I believe that myspace is primarily a vanity site, whereas facebook focuses on relationships.

A more subtle comparison happens between facebook and twitter. Both of these sites really focus on relationships, and both are amazing. But they excel at completely different things. This article will look into how they are similar, yet dramatically different, especially in terms of what your audience is.

First, let’s look at how they are similar Both have popular mobile device integration. Both are open to anyone with internet. Both allow direct communication, photosharing, and miniblogging. Both have profiles of some sort. They both get mentioned on mainstream media pretty frequently.

Next, let’s look at some key differences. Facebook requires mutual acceptance prior to establishing a relationship. In twitter this is an option, but most people do not employ it. Twitter has a great open API, whereas facebook recently offered one. Basically, this has allowed a lot of third-party applications like TweetDeck to thrive with Twitter, while the Facebook interface has been the primary manner of updating FB. Twitter also limits communication to a small number of characters, whereas it is possible to send or share almost anything through facebook. Facebook also has a great set of tools for finding possible relationships, whereas the built-in twitter interface for this is quite Spartan. Facebook’s site threads conversations by default, whereas on twitter does not. While both sites have profiles, there is a tendency to have more sensitive information on facebook (phone number, email).

Twitter enables very agile communication. It enables one entity to communicate to a large number of people, who are self-selecting, very easily. The communications are brief, and preferably clear and succinct. Lots of people spin on Twitter etiquette…things like multiple consecutive tweets, retweets, referrals, and more are blogged about ad nauseum.

Facebook is a bit less agile. While you can post to facebook in a similar manner as twitter, using many of the same tools and updating concurrently, the primary mode of interaction with facebook is the conversation. The existence of the trust relationship between friends on Facebook encourages different types of communication as well.

These factors contribute to the types of relationships users of the two sites typically cultivate. Twitter’s agility has made it a very convenient tool for keeping contact with my closer friends. We have brief conversations and typically have device updates enabled. It also allows me to have conversations with strangers who have similar interests. A lot of people see this aspect of twitter as a great marketing tool. Get the word out on something, and it spreads virally. This certainly happens. The consequence of this, and the relationship with like-minded strangers, is that there’s a certain branding that occurs with your twitter voice. A lot of people want to convey a particular message overall from their tweets.

In twitter, there are profiles that will provide almost any kind of information. Realtime updates on Blazer games, one-line jokes, news, recommended books, whatever you’re looking for you can probably find it.

Facebook, on the other hand, discourages relationships with people you don’t actually know. It’s up to you to decide how high or low you want to set the bar for friendships in facebook. These are typically family, friends (old and new), colleagues. I’ve read Defective Yeti for years and follow him on twitter and RSS, and know a lot of his life story, but am not friends with him on facebook. I doubt I’d turn him down, but can’t imagine why Matthew would ask.

This means that on facebook you can be yourself. Relatively. I don’t kid myself that people don’t try to build a facade, but we do in our classic relationships as well. But there’s not the same drive for personal branding as on twitter. Relationships tend to be deeper. While public, conversations are more directed, and there is more background available. Inside jokes are more accessible.

Time plays a bigger role, past and future are more real in facebook. Twitter focuses on what is happening now. What am I doing. What I did rolled off the bottom hours ago. In facebook, what you’re doing is right next to photos of what you did.

So, what’s the point of all this?

In the end, it all comes down to audience. It is important to think about who is on the other end of what you’re broadcasting.

In twitter, you’ve got close friends to complete strangers following you. Why are they following you? Do you care? In facebook, you’ve mutually friended relationships from throughout your life. What do you want to share?

In the end, it’s about having fun and enriching our lives. Both of these tools are amazing, and can be life changing.

I dedicate this article to all of the people who always update facebook and twitter with the same content and miss out on the conversation. cheers!

Is this poison oak?

I am terrible at identifying plants, yet at the same time I’m really susceptible to poison oak. For some reason, it is very difficult to find a decent image of the toxic weed. Guidebooks all have the same line drawing as can be found at trailheads. Pics on the internet are obscure and frequently hidden behind broken links.

So I found a plant I think might be poison oak. Can somebody please confirm?

Is this poison oak?
Is this poison oak?

thanks! I didn’t want to get any closer for fear of getting the aerial wrath of this f%*ker.

Facebook vs. Myspace

I’m completely aware that Facebook is pretty handily kicking the figurative ass of Myspace. I am pretty excited about this, because I’ve never been a fan of Myspace as a social networking site. I’ve enjoyed visiting band sites, and I managed to connect with a few people there.

On the other hand, I love Facebook. I talk about Facebook. I advocate its use, and might occasionally be obnoxious about it. But the conversations are interesting.

While interesting, they usually boil down to a few fairly standard themes. This is my favorite: “I didn’t get much out of Myspace, why should I bother with Facebook?” And that’s what I’m going to get obnoxious about in this post.

The word social sucks. Almost as much as the word sucks does. It is as overloaded as web2.0. Because Myspace and Facebook are both social does not mean they are the same. The difference is simple.

Myspace is a vanity site, while Facebook is about relationships and interactions

That’s the major difference. In Myspace, people collect friends. In Facebook, you establish relationships. There’s a trust relationship. Partly due to the amount of information that you provide in your profile. But most of it is in the consensual nature of friendships.

In Myspace, users are free to break (I mean design) their pages as they see fit. Boxes and blinks and blasting bass. Truly annoying and totally broken pages. And relationships are limited to writing to a person’s page or send a personal message.

On the other hand, in Facebook, the information of your established friends rolls past. Like life, you can miss a lot and still distill some quality. In Facebook, you aren’t talking about yourself, you’re sharing your story. And you’re inviting others to contribute and share.

Of course, there are those who say they “Just don’t do social sites.” That’s another article. But in the meantime, just tell them, “You will.”

Twitter for the real world

Twitter is getting some hype lately. The fun part of the hype is that it lacks any real explanation of what twitter is about, and generally any real understanding. So I’m going to help out by offering some examples of how twitter can positively impact your life, and not just by getting endless tweets sent to your phone or browser.

Twitter for sports teams
This one is for the soccer moms and team managers. Let’s say you’re showing up to a game only to find that there’s another sport happening, or no goal posts, or a vast hole in the ground. It happens. In pre-Twitter America, you would need to find a new field, and then assign somebody to wait around until everyone else shows up…because even with a call list somebody doesn’t have their phone and they are running late. And calling everyone on a call list is a hassle.

Enter Twitter. Create a twitter account for your team. Have everyone follow it (players and soccer moms). Send your message: “Game moved to Washington Elementary. June, don’t forget oranges slices.” Simple. Done.

Twitter in Education
I’ve had a few conversations about kids, education, and the new technologies. Latest was last night with a teacher friend. We were chatting about parent conferences, and the impact of them. One of the pain points was in communication around homework. The student insists that they don’t have any homework (untruth). The parent finds out about the problem at the conference when the grade has already suffered.

Again twitter is your friend. Create a twitter account as the teacher. Share the account to students and parents and ask them to follow you. This account is only for classroom-related information. For each class, simply tweet the assignment after the bell. Announce field trips, class news, awards, whatever.

Bringing MLS to Portland

Thank you City Hall fold for helping us to bring Major League Soccer to Portland. Just so you know, we’re all really excited about it. We have a massive underground presence here. Not that you’d know it from the sad lack of soccer bars in this town. The funny thing about that is that ballers like to drink. With a bit of love, you’ll have a well-supported locale. But enough about that. thank you Sam, Randy, and Saltzman (with comparable concessions). Now just on to figuring out the millions to pay for it.

Beer zen

This is brilliant!

props chris h from the OBC

Oregon HB2641

Rob L of the Oregon Brew Crew posted this to our listserv in a conversation about a new beer tax proposed in Oregon. He makes a number of lucid points. And doesn’t just complain but proposes action.

Oregon HB2461 surprised me. Actually, at first it was shock, then
disbelief and anger. Now I’m ready to do something about it.

Jim P wrote:
> Cost of producing each keg (tax is production cost) would go up $25.
> Average distributor markup is 20-30 percent. Average pub markup is
> 300-350 percent. You get 100-120 pints per keg. You can do the math.

Not everyone finds it easy to do the math, so here goes:
$100 keg today, about $1/pint
$1.30/pint from wholesalers
$4.00/pint at a pub

After the punitive “death to local beer” tax (using same markups):
$125/keg, or $1.25/pint
$1.63/pint from wholesalers
$5.00/pint at a pub

All of a sudden, that “15 cents a bottle” sounds downright misleading, when realistically it is an extra $1 for your pint!

Yes, raising taxes will reduce access to beer for kids; in fact, that 25% price hike will reduce access to beer for many adults, as well. In fact, this is already an extremely challenging time for the brewing industry, and it would likely drive a significant number of local breweries and pubs out of business.

If the problem is insufficient money for particular services, instead of proposing these punitive taxes that would throw more people out of work during the 2nd biggest recession in 200 years, then from the $140 million in “alcohol taxes” already being levied, why is less than 6 percent going to substance abuse treatment and prevention? Why not simply amend the bill to fund those services from the taxes already collected for that purpose?

If the authors of this bill actually have the well-being of high school youths as their primary concern, then they should recognize that most of the industrialized world allows drinking at age 16 (or so), and those countries have lower incidences of alcohol and drug abuse. They should provide sources for their outlandish claims such as “half of the students in every 11th grade classroom in Oregon drink” (really–in the classroom? Heck, not even half my adult co-workers drink!). And where is the causality — the connection between “having a beer” and having a “chronic, relapsing brain disease”? Beer is the healthy alcohol beverage of moderation. It just doesn’t make sense.

It also doesn’t add up economically.

Breweries and wineries in Oregon are locally-managed, world-class, family-owned, high-employment, tourist-attracting businesses. If we want to cripple our local economy because some businesses make products which might be mis-used, why are we only taxing beer? Should we also be taxing the local wineries and micro-distilleries? Isn’t obesity a leading health concern — should we be taxing our cheese, fruit, and filbert industries out of existence, too?

No! Oregon is famous for these specialty products, often hand-crafted or grown by businesses which often operate on thin margins; yet these historic mainstays of our economy could too easily be closed by sudden, thoughtless, extreme government over-taxation like this. I want Oregon to be a place that we’re proud of, and when tourists from all over the world come to the “Oregon Brewers Festival” — drawing over 70,000 people — it seems like our internationally renown breweries must be doing something right; something to be encouraged, not penalized.

Forcing draconian economic neo-Prohibitionism on our local world-class breweries, with built-in yearly escalating penalties, is short-sighted and misguided for our kids, our economy, and the standing of Oregon in the eyes of the world.

I love good beer, I love to share good beer with friends, and I believe responsibly enjoying good beer should have a greater role in our society.

I love Portland in part because of great (amazingly delicious!) beer, good biking and hiking, good coffee, wonderful food, nice wineries, beautiful rivers, the mountain and ocean nearby. We have great public spaces like museums, music, theatre, lovely parks, bookstores, brewpubs, and coffee shops. The casual wonders of our city are reflected in the people — we are generally the most polite, friendly, nice bunch of folks you could find.

I want to keep and cherish these things. If this bill was about creating a 2000% coffee tax, or taxing bike and parks usage, or driving local bookstores out of business, I think a huge number of us would be angry about those things, too, because they are special to us.

So what are we going to do about it? Well, I’m going to:

1) Write my state senator and state representative.

http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/

2) Encourage my friends to “speak up, if you don’t want beer taxes
to increase 2000 percent, about $1/pint, if HB2461 passes”.
I’ll offer to let them join me in taking action, too.

3) Volunteer for Zwickelmania on Saturday Feb 14th, to help
publicize this misguided government attempt to destroy
our local “good brewery” culture, and those good jobs.

4) Keep homebrewing, stay active in the Oregon Brew Crew, and keep
my ears open about other ways we can help prevent this disaster.

And finally, I’m going to relax and have a beer. A delicious local beer. Like none other in the world, brewed just a few miles from my house; at a brewery open for all to visit. And I’m going to smile, because I firmly believe that by working together, we are going to find a way to prevent a catastrophe like Oregon HB2461 from happening this year. And if we’re really, really smart we might even find a way to introduce legislation to prevent this ridiculousness from happening in the future, as well. And all that time, my friends and family, you and I, will have the pleasure of living in one of the best places on earth.

>> To Oregon’s fresh, local, delicious, healthy BEER! <<

Cheers and Prosit,
Robert L

I guess it’s back to drinking beer

Sparks is no longer being produced. Get’em while they’re cold.

Winter Camping on the Deschutes

Had a great weekend with some buddies camping over on the other side of the Cascades. We got out of town right after work on Friday and beat most of the bad Portland weather. At the top of 197 there was some gnarly snow and I was a bit concerned that we’d get stuck, but it let up surprisingly soon, and we saw no more precipitation for over 24 hours.

From Deschutes Big Freeze 12/08

We found a nice campground on the Deschutes about Shearer’s Falls near Maupin, and pitched our tents. It was freakin cold, so we kept the beer in coolers to help prevent them from freezing overnight. Good thing we were well-armed with a substantial amount of whiskey.

From Deschutes Big Freeze 12/08

We hiked (a little), fished, and had a generally good’ole time battling the elements and being ridiculous. We had a ton of wood, and kept a fire raging.

From Deschutes Big Freeze 12/08

It started hailing around 10pm on the second night, followed shortly by snow, but it never got too deep. On the other hand, it got really cold that night.

From Deschutes Big Freeze 12/08

Etnies party revisited

pdxpipeline has a nice bit on the party as well.

How do you share photos?

There are tons of ways to share photos (and videos) on the web. I currently use three main sites to share my photos, each for different reasons.

  • Picasaweb – I’ve been using google’s photosharing the longest, largely because I didn’t want to deal with getting a yahoo id. Which isn’t that tough. I like the album nature of picasaweb, and put most of the photos that I take onto there, treating it like as a bit of a cross between a backup and a social network.
  • Flickr – I recently broke down and created a flickr account. It’s been pretty fun. There’s much more of a streaming nature to it, and Flickr seems great for highlights. I’ve been putting my favorites onto there, so it ends up having a lot less pics than my picasaweb. Here’s an example of a flickr photo.
    From frolf at dabney
  • Facebook – while Flickr is somewhat social, it’s not social like facebook. I’ve been putting fun pictures onto facebook. Pictures of people, events, stuff that I want to share with friends. This is more likely a facebook selection:
    From broomball 2008
  • blog – However, if you look at either image it links back to my picasaweb. That may change in the future, at least for flickr pics, but for now it’s really easy to put picasaweb shots into my blog. My blog isn’t really a photo site, photoblog, or photostream. I don’t think of it that way. I use photos to augment stories (probably should do it more).

So each of the sites provides its own value. Picasaweb is a bit more encyclopedic. I’m using picasaweb to provide my blog pictures. Flickr is a bit more photo-centric, either looking at quality shots, quality subjects, or both, or whatever feels good. I guess in my case it’s the latter.

Facebook is more social. It is album-oriented like Picasaweb, but it puts photos in your friends’s and acquaintences’s faces. While I don’t mind people clicking around my public photos at will, I’ll be a bit more selective about what goes onto facebook. I’ll probably not put 500 photos of a mountain on there, for example. But I might do that on picasaweb.

I’m lazy with my picasaweb photos. Pretty much everything goes up there. I relatively few photos. While with flickr and facebook I choose what to upload, with picasaweb, I choose what not to upload. Sometimes. For example, this photo would never sneak through onto flickr or facebook.

From frolf at pier 12/08

There are other photo sites out there. Do you use something different? Why do you use the tools you use?

Crashing the Etnies holiday party

From Etnies Party

Word travels fast. Shortly after this was announced, we decided to crash it. You can see some more photos on my photostream or picasa. Some are a bit more adult than my usual fare, but nothing that’ll get you fired. Jane Wells has an entertaining summary also, featuring a shot of me and a few other crashers.

From Etnies Party

.

Thank you, Etnies!

Happy 75th, Repeal!

K-smacky alerted me to this. Prohibition ended 75 years ago, an event which opened the door to true American innovation. After the innovation of Prohibition expired…speakeasies, booze runners with false bottoms, etc, opened the doors to a new age of enlightenment. In fact, some would argue that it was the repeal of Prohibition that directly contributed to the space program, nuclear physics, and the internet.

Devaluation good?

So, I’ve been working on an idea. Devalue the dollar. Print money. Lots of it. My idea is to print money and use it to help people pay mortgages. Bottom up principle. Save people’s houses. Keep the notes good. The banks stay solvent. Everybody’s happy.

Of course, what if you don’t have a mortgage? I guess that’s a bummer for you because your dollars are being devalued as well. I’ve been trying to think of a better solution. But it’s not all bad…if you rent, at least you won’t be evicted because your landlord can’t keep the house.

So, I’ve been liking this idea. I’m sure it’s flawed, and it is definitely incomplete. But it’s better than printing money and putting it into play at the top. In my idea, that money has a definite purpose, and it is inserted into the system in a definite way. It is accomplishing something and getting the wheels turning. By by printing money to put it into play at the top, to make it available for banks to lend out, do we really know what they’re doing with it? Are they actually going to do something with it? There is little control there.

Anyway, there’s my idea, let me know what you think, maybe we can make it a whole idea.

flickr too!

I finally broke down and got me a flickr account. Now I have photos at picasaweb, facebook, and flickr. So, now I have wonder…what goes where? I’m thinking that the picasaweb will continue to be my library-type space. Pretty much all my photos go there. Then facebook gets the goofy fun ones, the parties, whatever. And lastly, flickr will diplay my favorites. Some I think are good photos, some are representative of what I’m about, and some just end up there.

So now I guess it’s time to play around with my online galleries and see what really excels where, doing what. Any thoughts on that? How do you use galleries online?

The kids are all write

I’ve been thinking about social web stuff a lot today. The good folks at Nemo Designs were good enough to have a long chat with anners and me about their social interweb. But that’s just the setup, I’m not really going to go into that…it was interesting though.

What I wanted to hit on is the kids and their lack of email! Which is something that’s come up in conversation, and it came up sometime after the aforementioned meeting, but not during. So the argument that I hear goes something like this:

- Email is going away.
- Why?
- Because kids don’t use email.
- Huh?
- Yeah, they’ve studied kids and they use facebook and twitter and stuff and they don’t even have email accounts.

So, my response is…So what? I mean, did you have a mailing address as a kid? I don’t recall getting much mail. And most of it was highly temporal, non-transactional information. Birthday cards, Ranger Rick, um, I think that’s about it. I was way ahead of my time and couldn’t stand sending letters because the transit time was ridiculous and I didn’t want to pay for a stamp.
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Tears and hope

‘”Change has come” and we can all work together for a better and united future for all in our country and worldwide.’

That was my mom in the comments tonite. We had a fun little election party, and for the first time in a long time, we ended up happy, not just wiser.

And we cheered. McCain’s speech was great. That McCain may have won the election. He was honest, sincere, honorable, clear, and inspiring. For the first time since this all began I saw McCain make an effort to unite people, not just ignite his base. The cycle could have been far more exciting and far less scary.

And Obama spoke. Pericles, a great orator, perhaps someday Obama will be read, thousands of years in the future, and his words will be seen as the ones that brought a civilization together. He is a man who has ideas and can lead the people. Unite us. Tonight he attacked that divide and Obama will continue to attack the divide.

I had hoped for the 60 senate seats. Not that I believe a supermajority is a great thing. I’m far too moderate. But because I believe that things have gotten so bad that only in the face of utter defeat can we reach across to humble Republicans and say that we’re in this together. We’re not in total lockstep (as the last so many years have witnessed), we’re in a discussion. We are all patriots. Without superior firepower, I fear that the war will continue.

But…back to what my mom said. I watched Barack Obama speak tonight. It was wonderful. I drew near tearful on a few occasions. But I saw the comment from my mom. So much hope. It was beautiful, and it brought tears to my dry eyes.

“Change has come” and we can all work together for a better and united future for all in our country and worldwide.

Memories…

2000. Oh, the disappointment. Later and later it got at the Yukon Tavern, drinking Pabst after Pabst, watching the states black out one after another. The red carpet on the walls and the mannequin legs dangling above. Great conversation as we drifted further and further into desperate (to know!) drunkenness, and then even further into it with desperation not to know.

2004. Doin’ it bourgeois-style at Everyday Wine. Grimmer and grimmer. The wine bar closed when it was grim, but there remained hope. Kieran and I went to The Spare Room, an unbelievably surreal bar, to watch the remainder of the election. We’d expected to be among celebrators, many members of The Greatest Generation drink there, but instead we had a soul-searching time carousing and commiserating with a unique blend of folk. Things changed when they opened up the speakers and a small older lady did her karaoke version of The Candy Man Can. I am still haunted. Rest her soul, she’s no longer with us, but that memory is strong. I hope that she smiles after tonite, wherever she is.

cheers, and Godspeed.