Monday, February 14, 2011

Geography Nerds Not Dead

What do Uzbekistan and Liechtenstein have in common? They are the only two "doubly landlocked" countries in the world. What do Bolivia and Tibet have in common? Well, they do seem to be kindred spirits of some sort. However, I'm aiming at a more remote answer. Both once had a coastline. One lost it to Chile in the late 1800s and the other was its own empire in the 9th century, currently under occupation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

China Truck Bike

Been in L.A. for a month. Bonding with paternal relatives. Learned how to fix a few things at the Bicycle Kitchen off Melrose. Great crew there. Community atmosphere. Replaced the brakes on my purple mountain bike and the seat post on dad's white beach cruiser. Even brought in my rusty old "China Truck Bike" that I salvaged from under a tree in Florida and hauled across the continent. That is my favorite bicycle in the whole wide world. I bought it like 10 years ago for ten bucks at a yard sale and when I moved to New York five years ago, I left it in the hands of my bike-loving network of friends, who promised to keep it in communal circulation and working order.

I've been back to visit thrice and twice I've found its tires flat and its frame decaying in the Floridian elements. It's since been restored to its original might, without compromising its old, beat up, commie aesthetic.

I have other little tales to tell of this visit to L.A. and of our way here. I hope to let them out in smaller chunks and therefore more often. Like once a day. That's after I've caught up on a backlog of updates from eastern Europe in September. I've come as far as Budapest. Next is Belgrade. Then Bucharest and onward.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Gene to Sully

My favorite taxi blogger in New York has written about his recent interview with the Village Voice. He has an important point, which they ironically chose to edit out. In his own words:

"It's that these things are dangerous. How so? They are distracting and irritating to the driver. As if driving a cab in the streets of New York City wasn't distracting and irritating enough without them!

The analogy I make to passengers in my cab when this subject comes up, and it comes up often, is
how would you like it if, when you were flying in an airplane, there was a television nine inches behind the head of your pilot, the volume of which was under the control of the passengers? For that matter, how would you like it if this thing was nine inches behind the head of your bus driver? Well, guess what, statistically riding in a taxi is more dangerous than riding in either a plane or a bus.

The main justification for the existence of the city agency known as the Taxi and Limousine Commission is to ensure the safety of the passengers. That is priority number one. So to add an unnecessary and unwanted element into the environment of the taxicab which is distracting and irritating to the driver is utterly contrary to its mandate.

And it needs to be changed.

Thanks Eugene for pointing that out. Thought I'd help you spread the word. By the way, what attracts me to this post the most is that I have always regarded our profession, in a city like ours, to be akin to aviation. It's the same feeling I got from Captain Sully, the airline pilot who landed in the Hudson River, when he expressed that if pilots don't earn competitive wages, the industry will eventually lose the best and safest of them to lesser experienced ones. Same goes for taxi drivers in New York. We have as many reflexes as they have controls in their cockpit.

photo above thanks to