I'm almost done sanding my frame. And of course, what's remaining is the worst part. Getting all the nitty-gritty paint that's leftover in the grooves and corners. I could use a dremel tool for this, but Will can't find his dremel since our two recent moves (into the ether, I guess, like the $900 worth of eyewear I lost in our cross-country move – yes, NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS in the form of one finished pair of glasses and frames I hadn't had lenses put into yet – don't get me started), and we don't really want to spend the money on a new one right now; we're getting ready to install the concrete countertops and cabinetry in our kitchen, so we have to watch our nickels and dimes.
So we meandered down to Velocipede Bike Project here in Baltimore that, bully for us, is only about a ten-minute walk from our house. You can volunteer here for three hours a month for access to their bike shop and tools. We brought the Weims, of course, but the shop dog, Tater was there. A little runt of a brindle pitbull, she was very alpha. While dog is not my native tongue, after living with these two gray ghosts for the past five years, I'm pretty fluent. In no uncertain terms, her body language said, "Back the fuck off, boys!" So we tied the Weims up across the street and went in to check the place out.
The cool thing about finding holes in walls like this is that each time you go, you learn something new. We found out that yes, we probably will volunteer here. Even more useful, the guy gave us the name of Powder Coat Finishes of Baltimore. According to him, I can have my frame and fork sandblasted and powdercoated for about $125. This is really great news! The place I had researched while in DC – somewhere in Manassas, VA – wanted $300. Which is why I had decided to do it myself. But now, at this stage and with the summer upon us, I really want to get this bike built so I can ride it. I will happily fork over the money. I think you realize at a certain age that there are some things in life that you should really just pay someone else to do. Like change your oil, clean your toilets, and paint your fixed-gear bike frame.
After Velocipede, we strolled about two blocks west to Baltimore Bicycle Works, a local shop that sells custom-built bikes and bike parts. I absolutely LOVE shopping at places like this. This store is run by a group of twenty-somethings who are just passionate about bikes. They are living their passion, tactically. In three-dimensions. Which makes me think of this book I want to read, Shop Class as Soulcraft. It's on my list....
Anyway, this bike shop reminds me a lot of CounterBalance Bicycles, on Queen Anne near our house in Seattle. The Weims came in with us (no bitchy, bossy shop dogs there!) and with Will's help, I ordered my bracket, crank, crank arms, and chain. I'll post pictures of these parts when they come in. Currently, I have my frame, my fork and my seat. GETTING CLOSER.
I've been on a Michael Pollan kick lately, having just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food. I love his guide to eating:
Pay more, eat less. Good food is not cheap. Like most other things, you get what you pay for. And, in most cheap foods, their true costs to society are hidden. If you have no idea what I'm talking about but wish you did, then read this book. It's good for you.
Eat meals. No, not Happy Meals.
Do all your eating at a table. Desks do not count as tables, people. Nor do dashboards in cars.
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does. Ummm, yeah. All I can think about are those scenes in Wall-e. Remember all those fat people, riding around in their space-age Lazy Boys with soft drinks being intravenously delivered? I see premonitions of this at Union Station in the summer when all the obese American tourists descend on the capital, walking around with their venti caramel frappuccinos, extra whipped cream for breakfast. It's kind of scary.
Try not to eat alone. Eat with your dog or cat if you must. In general, pets are better company than most people, anyway.
Consult your gut. When you feel full, stop stuffing your cake hole!
Eat slowly. Sloooooow fooooooood. Get it?
Cook, and if you can, plant a garden. Or, shop at the farmer's market. Not Whole Foods, not Safeway, not Costco. Food that is shipped thousands of miles from the farm to your plate is not slow food. Like this bag of coffee beans pictured above. I had these beans shipped to Baltimore from San Francisco mainly because I don't like the taste of the local beans I've found here (these Ritual beans were, of course, shipped to SF first from Ethiopia or maybe South America – man, that totally fucks it all up). Obviously, these beans are not slow food. I'm ashamed to think of how much fossil fuel was required to get these beans to my house. But DAMN. ARE THEY GOOD.
There is another local roaster I'm going to try, though. Bluebird Artisanal Coffee. I like their logo. I like the word "artisanal" used to describe food. Therefore, this looks promising....
And finally, his manifesto: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (And a little chocolate, espresso, and gelato – my addendum).
Those of you who know me moderately well have heard me talk about building my fixed-gear bike. Now that I have a bike stand and the weather's (FINALLY – !!) nice, I've been stripping and sanding the frame, taking it down to the bare metal. This is a Bianchi steel frame with semi-horizontal dropouts, circa 1980-something. I bought it at Recycled Cycles before I left Seattle.
Anyway, Sunday, while standing on my back patio, listening to Lila Downs really loud and feeling the sun warm on my back, I felt a satisfaction that I never feel when designing with pixels. I thought back to my days in design school when I took a couple of industrial design classes, and how much I enjoyed them. I think there's something to the tactile, physicality of putting your hands directly on a design object. And the act of actually moving through space in order to realize a design.
I like interaction design, and the project I'm working on at NPR right now is challenging and interesting, but sometimes, it is so nice to be off the computer. Away from a digital interface and knee-deep in a physical one. No Twitter, no blog, no Facebook. Just me, my dirty, greasy, grimy hands, Will's power tools, and a deliciously satisfying tactile interface. LOVE IT. It's kind of like white space for your brain.
When I retire, I think I want to open a photography studio, design and build bikes and furniture while running an authentic espresso bar, and sell produce from my organic garden at the farmer's market on the weekends. Ideally, somewhere in Europe. Or Colorado. Or maybe back in Seattle...sigh.
Browsing through nymag.com yielded this fascinating slideshow: Lindsay Lohan does Marilyn. I remember hearing about it when it first came out, but it just now really caught my interest.
It's fascinating to see variations of the female form. As design objects, each element of a woman's body can take on different forms: the curvature of the breast, size and shape of nipples, shape and roundness (or lack thereof) of the buttocks. The musculature of the abdomen, the placement of the navel.
The ideal human form, as we learn in figure drawing/design classes, is based on proportions of the golden ratio. Which makes me wonder, do plastic surgeons study this mathematical formula and apply it in their work?
In contrast, looking at photos of Marilyn, it's obvious that she was definitely a better designed product; classical lines, elegant, proportionate forms, a golden ratio masterpiece.
Not that Lindsay's unnattractive, but it's amazing how subtle changes in geometry can make the difference between a great beauty like Marilyn and just-another-pretty-face one, like Lindsay. Her breasts are huge, but she has no hips. her lips are odd (maybe too many injections?). Her proportions are off. She's too asymmetrical. From the waist down, she looks like an adolescent male, minus the penis. IMHO, of course. And from a strictly formal, design standpoint.