June 2008

Journeys, Experiences and Destinations, Oh My!

“Does it need to be a beach on Hawaii, or can it just be some of the time you’d have carved out getting there?”

That’s one short line from a very long post my friend Colleen just wrote, but I think it’s easily the most important thing she says. Of course I’m yanking it out of context to make it seem a little heavier but in context she’s answering the question “Which parts of your life make you the happiest?” and it’s a list of fairly simple things, or actually, a few simple activities. She’s talking about doing those activities with people you love being so much better. This is actually something I’ve been thinking about for a while but Colleen kinda nails it with that line. And sure it’s just a twist on the “the journey is more important than the destination” thing but sometimes you need a twist for it to really click. And this does just that. I was looking over my 2007 year in review and all the traveling I did last year and while it was cool to go new places, the experience of going there and the people I was with was far and away more important to me.

I actually decided somewhere in the middle of last year that stuff didn’t really matter to me as much as experiences because 5, 10, 20 years from now the stuff will have come and gone, or broken, or been replaced, or ended up on a shelf gathering dust, while the experiences are what sticks with you for ever. They are what change you, what mold you, and what make you better tomorrow than you were today. However I hadn’t considered it the way Colleen puts it here. I would have thought “going on vacation to Hawaii with someone important to me” would be the experience but she’s absolutely right, Hawaii doesn’t matter. The “where” is trivial, the important bit is that you, or both of you, decided that spending this time with the other person, experiencing whatever it is that is going to come from it together, was important enough to do it. It’s all the bits in between A and B.

I think I realized that a bit more recently on the roadtrip I took with Tara from Seattle to Los Angeles. Getting to Los Angeles was the goal, but it wasn’t really the “goal” if that makes sense. I’ve been to Los Angeles, so while I was looking forward to getting home, that wasn’t really what we were after. We purposefully alotted extra days in the trip so we could take the trip, rather than just focus on the destination. We could stop and look at weird things on the side of the road. We could spend hours doing things that were not driving towards our destination at all. The flowers were stopped for and smelled to say the least. I learned a lot from that trip that I try to keep in mind going forward, and I’m lucky enough to have people like Colleen around to point out the other angles sometimes as well.

Bikes and Gearing and Flats, oh my!

new gearing!

Since asking for help IDing this frame that I picked up I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a Masi, produced in Switzerland by Masi himself, in the late 1940’s early 1950’s. I can’t confirm that, but it’s the best guess anyone can come to given a whole host of minor details. Pretty exciting. Yesterday I did a bunch of work on it and also on my main ride, the Swobo.

On the Swobo I basically replaced the entire drive train. It initially came with 48×16 and quickly I downgraded that to 48×17 simply because I wanted to learn how to skid, and the single skid patch on 48×16 freaked me out. With this change I moved entirely to 1/8 width chain and rings, and am now running 44×15. This is a much higher gear and so far I’m digging it. I also dumped the TruVativ parts that came on it and replaced them with Sugino and Dura Ace stuff. Loving that so far too.

On the Masi I’m taking it much slower. I took it into Orange 20 the other day and asked what the first build up steps should be. Kyle immediately said wheels and we tried to fit some on it. Unfortunately the forks could not hold a wheel with a modern axle (older ones were much narrower) so I needed to take it back and grind the axle slots to make them a bit wider. Mr. Rollerz helped me with this and yesterday I went back in and Jack helped me pick out some nice silver wheels that look swanky on it. Of course I ripped one of the tubes while installing them later, but oh well. For the time being I’m throwing a 17t EAI cog on the back and I’m keeping an eye out for an Italian crankset with maybe a 46t or 48t chainring. A chain, stem, handlebars and lever for the break will complete the package. This build isn’t going to be done super fast, but it’s going to rock when it is.

Also, 6 flats later I found the super tiny piece of glass that was stuck in my fucking tire. Damnit.

Bad PR person. No plug for you.

I have made it clear on countless occasions that unsolicited e-mails from PR flaks are the bane of my existence. I hate them. They are evil and terrible and they also suck. I have the phrase “for immediate release” in my auto delete filter and also blanket bans on a handful of domains that I know belong to PR companies. Still sometimes they find a way to get through. If any one of these people did 10 seconds of research they would know that sending me this crap is a very bad idea and not likely to result in anything positive for their clients. So when they do, I know for a fact that they are just pulling my name off some list. I just received an e-mail from:

Maryam Zarkesh
Murphy O’Brien Public Relations
Senior Account Executive
1630 Stewart Street, Suite 140
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Direct: (310) 586-7150

Filled with bad puns, BOLD text, a formated text menu and 5, count them F I V E attachments. It was addressed to me like we were buddies. Additionally, she sent the exact same e-mail to the general Metblogs support e-mail, minus the personal greeting. Really stupid move.

People, if you hire a PR firm to rep you, make sure they know what the hell they are doing online and with bloggers because if not you are just paying them to piss people off. So yeah, I’m making a list.

Anyway, how’s your day been?

Plazes, Nokia, and congrats!

A few years ago just after launching Blogging.la but prior to expanding it into Metblogs I attended an early incarnation of e-tech and to this day it was still one of the more inspiring conferences I’ve been to. (I’ve said this before but the feeling then was much more “look at this thing I built in my garage, i wonder what we all can do with it” which is very different than today’s version which is more “here’s the presentation about this company which you knew about 6 months ago and here’s how it can make you money” – but that is a different rant all together). Anyway, at that conference I barely knew anyone, and everyone I knew I was meeting in person for the first time. Perhaps because of that I found myself alone a lot and just started talking to people who happened to be around.

200806230030.jpg Felix Peterson was one of those people. We ended up in an elevator together and later at a lunch table and talked about which sessions had inspired us and what we were hoping to learn in the ones we were about to attend. We both left that conference with loads of ideas and when I ran into him a year later I couldn’t wait to tell him how I’d put so much of that into practice on the blogs. I wasn’t the only who’d been busy as he’d also gotten ideas and launched a product of his own during that year. His project was called Plazes and I’d already seen it and been playing around with it quite a bit just hadn’t realized he was one of the guys behind it.

Over the next we years we traded lots of ideas and stories and have seen the ups and downs of each others companies and lives. It’s been fun and exciting, and I get psyched everytime I see something they are up to. When I was in Berlin a few months back I checked out their new offices and was blown away by the new stuff they were working on. When I saw the the news yesterday that Nokia is planning to acquire them I actually clapped and said “right on!”. Then I realized I was in a coffee shop and felt like an idiot and packed up my stuff and left. But really, I can’t express how psyched I am for Felix, Stephan, and the whole crew over there at Plazes. I know they’ve been busting their ass, and I know they’ve always held on to their vision and it’s immensely cool to have seen that grow through all these stages. They totally deserve this, and it’s super awesome. Congrats everyone!

Gas Price: $0.00 per gallon


On a recent trip to Portland I stopped by Powells and happened to see a stack of these stickers that simply said “$0.00 9/10” which is a pretty obvious reference to the rising gas prices in contrast to the cost of driving/riding a bike instead. I snatched up a bunch and quickly slapped them on my bike. Upon returning to Los Angeles I saw a few others with them as well and even noticed that some friends had taken to making them on their own. In fact, everywhere I turn the rising cost of gas and alternatives to just continuing to drive seems to be a relatively hot topic, and just having the stickers on my bike has sparked discussions with people all over town. It’s kind of funny, because it’s almost some kind of shared suffering that everyone is enduring and it’s getting people to talk to each other and consider other options. One thing I keep getting asked is where folks can get the stickers on their own, and it looks like the best option is actually right here on the internet. Check out zeropergallon.com where they have stickers and shirts and all kinds of other crap you can spend your money on, besides gas.

How I Use Twitter, pt 2

Back in November of 2007 I wrote a post about how I use Twitter. It’s been 8 months since then and partially because of how my travel schedule has impacted my usage, partially because of changes to some features that Twitter as been messing with, and partially because of a recent increase in comments from people I’ve never met complaining that I wasn’t following them, I thought it was time to update the post.

In general I still use Twitter for the same basic functions I did before:

  1. Keep up to date on the lives of a few close friends.
  2. Keep up to date on the activities of friends in the same city as me, potentially leading to IRL meet ups.
  3. Have conversations.

That’s it, and in that order of importance. I certainly understand that not everyone uses Twitter for the same reasons or in the same fashion and I don’t assume people will use it the same way I do, and all I ask is that people don’t assume I use it the same way they do. The biggest issue is that Twitter fills a very specific need for me, one that no other service has been able to fill as well, and I’m not rushing to give that up by changing how I use it. As I stated back in November, in order for me to actually be able to do the things I’ve listed above, I have to be very conservative with who I follow. That is, I have to follow my close friends, my friends in the same cities I’m in, and the people I’m having conversations with.  The truth is for some reason there are a bunch of people following me who I’ve never met, and while I’m flattered that they care what I have to say (or not say as is more often the case) if I followed every single person who followed me my view of Twitter would be completely filled with people I didn’t know talking about things I’m not involved with and I’d miss the things by the people I do know and those talking about things I am involved with. Feel free to draw parallels to the UK filming every single inch of public space with CCTV cameras which creates such a backlog that they can never effectively use any of it. Point is I don’t want to give up the primary thing I use Twitter for just to prevent awkward social situations.  This is the same situation I was in before, but I want to also spend a moment or two talking about how things have changed since then.

Old Stuff: Disaster!

Back in July of 2002 Morgen and I drank a lot of coffee and write up a few ideas for movies that we thought would rock. I realized they are too awesome to be so buried in my archives, so I’m reposting them here. The third one we wrote was for Disaster! (original link), and that is this:

Christopher Walken as Mayor of LA
Charlize Theron as the newscaster
Tommy Lee Jones as volcano dude
Don Cheadle as the genius

The movie opens with some family at a picnic in a park and they are all happy and it’s sunny. The kids are playing Frisbee or something like that and the parents are laughing about something that is probably not really that funny when all of a sudden some wind kicks up and it starts blowing stuff in the people’s faces, like this one dude gets a plate of coleslaw right up the nose, then it’s all dark and they look up and are all “damn, that looks like a tornado, but this is Los Angeles and we don’t have those here so I wonder what it could…AAAHHHHH!!” and the thing that totally looked like a tornado spins by and totally makes their picnic look like a Kansas trailer park.

Next thing you know it’s all over the news. It turns out it really was a tornado which is really freaking people out, and oh yeah there was this thing about a 7.0 earthquake in Taiwan, but who cares about that and they go right back into this crazy tornado thing. Well people are running around all tornado and self important when all the sudden everything starts shaking. This one dude out on the street is like “AHHHH ANOTHER TORNADO RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!” And this other lady is like “Tornado? this is LA, we don’t have tornado.” and the dude is like “DIDN’T YOU SEE THE NEWS?? AHHHH!” and She’s like “I Know an Earthquake when I feel one” And the dude is all “EARTHQUA..? Oh yeah..” And they happen to be outside of one of those stores with all the TVs in the windows with the news that are in all the movies but never really exist. The News girl is all “FUCKING SHIT!!!! That wasn’t just some small earthquake you just felt, it was the ripple thing from a 19.7 Earthquake that just happened in Asia. Or…what used to be Asia, the place is history!”