I just stepped outside Cafenation for a bit of fresh air, and the pumpkins at Johnny D’s Fruit Market were lit up brilliantly by the late morning sun. Since it looks like I won’t be able to get out to a country farm stand this weekend, it’s nice to have a little bit of the country right here in Brighton Center. The photo is one I took a couple years ago.
This morning when I got on my bike, I could feel it was happy about the tune-up it received at Bicycles Bill’s over the weekend. Actually it was more than a tune-up, since several parts had to be replaced due to nine-years of wear–the rear wheel, a break arm, the rear derailleur. Now I don’t have to worry whether my breaks will work quickly enough when that person taking on his cell phone steps in front of me, or whether my chain will pop off when I shift going up hill. I’m pretty hard on this old bike most of the year, so I figured it was time to give it a little TLC to get us through the winter.
Apparently, some people are beginning to consider biking commuting now that gas prices have risen to new levels. As usual, it’s probably too little to late, but it’s at least been good to read several articles recently that renewed my own enthusiasm for the ideals of biking. In the Globe last week, one article gave a favorable review to the experience of biking to work: “One week, two wheels For five days, a reporter leaves his car at home and commutes to work the gas-free way — on a bicycle,” and the editorial section has been peppered lately with arguments for the wisdom of biking rather than driving, when possible. Another Globe article, “On a bicycle built, and run, by many,” reported on a student project which designed a bus powered by people, a project that combined several interests for those involved: “environmental sustainability, use of recycled materials, and community interaction.” And finally, Orion has a recent article on “Pedal Power: recycled bike machines give new life to Guatemalan farmers” which describes how bikes from Boston and elsewhere are being retooled for agricultural uses in rural Latin America. The article mentions the involvement of the Boston organization Bikes Not Bombs which has teamed up with engineering students at MIT to draw up blueprints and directions for various machines, which now are available on the web.
All this pro-biking buzz gets me excited, and it’s gotten me thinking about the cultural work of promoting technologies—in this case sustainable ones—especially since so much technology gets pushed on us without much reflection on whether we really need it or what consequences it may have on us in the long term. For alternative technologies to take hold, we need not just engineering types to design them, but people to think about them and argue for them—in short, rhetoricians of various stripes. Even though at times I wish I could work more directly to promote sustainable design, I’m glad that what I do as an instructional designer shares a concern with fostering healthy cultures of technology, in my case with educational technologies in a university setting, and I hope I’ll find other ways to chances to promote hopeful machines like bikes.
I just returned from a trip out to California for Monica’s wedding, a trip I extended so I could visit folks down the coast. I ended up with a cross-section of CA, stretching from Bodega Bay north of San Francisco, down the coast through Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, ending up in LA. Since this is long overdue, as usual, I’ll just summarize things briefly. For photos, check out the CA Trip Gallery.
I began in San Francisco, where I picked up TJ, Lara, and Richard at the airport and then we drove north to Monica and Simon’s wedding near Occidental, stopping along the way for a hike in the Muir Woods. The wedding was a weekend affair at a camp in the woods, with the ceremony outdoors in a stand of Redwoods and many of us staying in cabins for two nights.
On Sunday I met up with Pica and Numenius at the Seaweed Café in Bodega Bay, and we had an enjoyable chat as always. As usual, I felt like was just visiting from the other side of town, and we easily picked up where we left off. Yes, I’m willing to go to any lengths to further my “dissertation research,” even if it means meeting up with smart, interesting bloggers at a great brunch spot on a beautiful morning in northern California.
From there I drove into San Francisco, with a stunning late-afternoon view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city in the distance to welcome me. Ajai and I hiked up to a park overlooking the city and then had burgers in the Mission District. That evening, I stayed with Andy and Rebecca in Palo Alto and had just enough to catch up briefly before I hit the road Monday morning at about six.
Monday I spent the morning and afternoon driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, stopping near Big Sur to watch about 15 condors hanging out along the highway. Further along the way I paused to check out the Elephant Seals lounging on the beach. By afternoon I arrived in Santa Maria where I enjoyed lunch with Elaine and got a tour of her stomping ground. I then drove another hour to Santa Barbara to visit Andrea, who has just moved there from Boston to take a job teaching psychology. Tuesday afternoon I completed the last leg of my journey to LA to visit Sara and Brian in Echo Park.
It’s crazy to think that I’ve been in California four times in the last year and half–enough to let me get in touch with California Tim, long repressed by my East Coast life. Though I’m beginning to feel like deep down I’m really a West Coast guy, the conclusion of these trips always force me to make peace with my life in Boston again. We’ve learned to work through our differences, Boston and I, and so last Thursday when I emerged groggy and stiff from my overnight flight back to Logan, I was willing to feel like I was home.
A couple weeks ago, my piece “Blogging Places: Locating Pedagogy in the Whereness of Weblogs” in the journal Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedoagogy. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without all the generous input I received from numerous place bloggers, especially the Ecotone folks. So thanks everyone for your feedback and interest during the process of writing this.
I’m now in the process of filling out sections of this as I plow ahead with the larger dissertation process. So some of you will likely be hearing from me again…