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Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Mass

I really wasn't on my A game this Critical Mass, photographically speaking. I had my trusty D7000 and an SB800 speed light. Light is always an issue by this time of year, as contrasted with summer Masses when the tailgating portion of the festivities is right smack in the magic hour. And while the turnout was lower than I'd have expected, there plenty of Halloween fun I didn't get documented.

Including a tandem with a skeletal stoker, didn't get a clear photo of that at all. Got a nice one of Jacinta's crow costume, but not really one that gets the whole effect. And you can't take a bad picture of her, I've tried, she's just too darn photogenic.

It was cold out. Well, it felt cold out. It was in the 40s when we met up, might have dipped to the upper 30s by the time I got home. But owing to that Chinese hoax Climate Change, my body's carburetor hasn't had a chance to adjust to these temperatures. Come February, 45º, I start riding bare arms. Friday night I got home in a long sleeve t-shirt, Hawaiian shirt and cycling jacket (and once I'm acclimatized, it has to be below freezing before I want the whole jacket, as opposed to just the sleeves. I also had on flannel lined jersey gloves and a balaclava.

And with all that, what in a month or so will seem like appropriate gear for a ride 20º colder, wasn't enough to keep me from shivering as I rode.

Maybe if I hadn't been so cold I could have done more damage with the camera.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Anniversary Shoot

So I guess Em was asking her husband for a photo shoot for their first wedding anniversary. So he asked me to surprise her with one and, of course, I obliged.

I got a few good ones. And as usual quite a few where the focus was wrong, white balance was whack, etc. You can fix the latter in Photoshop but IMHO a good photographer gets it at the camera.

Had fun with my wide angle lens, an 11-16mm Tokina.

Garage Party

Not a huge narrative here, one of my favorite people in the world threw a party in her garage, and being me, I brought my Nikon.

Oh, and Jofess stole a guest's hat and I ended up with it for a while. It completed my full-on Tourist costume with the aloha shirt and camera.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

What Happens In Vegas...

I've been on record in these pages as saying the Second Amendment covers your right to not only own guns, but aircraft carriers, nuclear missiles, tanks, Predator drones, etc. It has to in order to fulfill that defense against tyranny part gun nuts love to cite while defending their AR15s with bump-fire stocks that have no legitimate self defense or hunting purpose.

I still think this is true, this country was founded on a violent insurgency, and through a lucky turn of events, it established a regime that was a vast improvement over the one overthrown. That is, historically, anomalous. The French Revolution? Russian Revolution? The Khmer Rouge, Mao, the Islamists who took over Iran in 1979? Pretty much every time people have risen in violence to overthrow a tyrant they've installed a tyrant as bad or worse. So for all the founding fathers got right, they fucked up some too.

Slavery? Women's suffrage? There was lots of stuff the founders encoded into their fledgling republic that was fucked up and while I'm not anti-gun (I enjoy shooting, and I see valid uses), unfettered and unvetted gun ownership and carriage is one of the most problematic legacies that have yet to be addressed. Women vote, we've sort of liberated the slaves, but it's basically illegal to ask someone why they want a 30th semi-auto long gun with a bump-fire stock and another 3,000 rounds of ammo.

The Second Amendment is just an amendment. And there's nothing 'well regulated' about the so-called militia that has all these high capacity magazines, machine gun workarounds and such. It can and should be changed because over 500 people were injured or killed in direct violation of their 'liberty' to listen to terrible music in Las Vegas and go home unharmed by anything other than a country concert.

You gun nuts, God bless you, if you do't want Australian or Japanese style gun control to eventually come to pass, quit pretending like the right to own weapons of indiscriminate mass murder is more important than the right to survive a concert. I don't believe gun control measures by themselves will solve the problem, I think big pharma is as culpable in this as the gun lobby (homicidal/suicidal ideation related to SSRI's is vanishingly rare as a percentage, but it doesn't take much of a fraction of 30 million people to cause big problems). But hearing an ATF official explain that bump-fire stocks are legal because they follow the letter of the law if not the spirit, I have a problem with that. These are tools designed to make the gun an indiscriminate killing device.

I have to show my driver's license to buy cold medicine. Last time I was in Walmart, the Krylon was locked up to prevent huffers from stealing spray paint. Maybe, just maybe, it should be harder to murder and maim a crowd of people than it is to get nasal decongestants or a can of Krylon gold.

September Mass

I messaged my friend Sarahsaurus Rex to tell her she should wear her Superwoman outfit to Critical Mass. She messaged back, "What did you do?"

At which point I realized, last month I made a spoke card that featured a topless Sarahsaurus Rex. I debated about whether to message her back that I hadn't made another spoke card with her as the star.

No, I'd made a Superman oriented card. Well, on one side there was an old photograph of a demonstration of 'Bike Power' that appears to date from the late 60s or early 70s, long before Critical Mass became a thing (which, according to Wikipedia would be 1992).

But on the one side, I had the Superman logo with 'My planet was destroyed. Be careful with yours.' It's not new or particularly original; in fact it wasn't even the first time I'd made a spoke card with that basic design, but that one was long weathered out and gone (or possibly died in a wheel rebuild).

And it remains a valid sentiment. I doubt the planet is destructible by human means in a Death-Star-blows-up-Alderaan way, but as the saying goes, it don't take a weatherman to look around and see the weather.

Actually I think environmental logic is, for Americans, the least compelling reason to use bicycles for transportation. If Americans gave a shit about their carbon footprint, they wouldn't rationalize buying ever larger vehicles. You could about park a 1975 Honda Civic in the trunk of a 2017 Honda Civic, and that's not because Honda wants to sell enormous cars, it's because the market has demanded bigger cars, with more horsepower, even when gas was $4 a gallon and the economy was tanking.

Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, high blood pressure: these are all things that are killing us that respond well to cycling. And when you use your bike to commute to work and run errands, buy groceries, etc., you take care of your physical fitness while getting things done. That's got huge advantages over trying to get everything done and then set aside a block of time for a workout.

Congestion, parking nightmares, these are also things that respond well to cycling. If say half of the people who live within ten miles of their job were to leave their cars at home on an average day, you wouldn't even be able to tell it was rush hour for the traffic on the street. All those bicycles might be slower than the cars but they take up a fraction of the space, both on the road and at their destination.

You may have seen this picture elsewhere, it's semi-famous. Been re-staged and shot a couple of times, but it shows how much space the same group of people take using three transportation options. The next time you feel aggravated at a cyclist slowing you down, take a breath and remember all the cars are doing much more to slow you down, as you are to them.

For that matter, far too many Critical Mass riders arrive by car or drive to a spot they figure the ride will go by and bike in from there. I've done so myself a few times when my transportation logistics got screwed up. But it's better on so many levels to just bike to the event. As an added bonus, you're not going to get a DUI biking home. I'm not saying you can't et in trouble, or hurt, cycling drunk, but it's not a motorized vehicle, so if you end up in the back of a patrol car it ain't going to be because you were blowing hot.

And no, I'm not advocating riding drunk. But if you've had a few, you really are putting yourself at risk and no one else. And I'm pretty sure that most people who figure they're 'fine to drive' are definitely putting others in harm's way. So you can have Leslie Knope sitting on the hood of Ron Swanson's car until the chart says his blood alcohol is below .08%, or you can ride your Surly.