Gear Report: Winter Biking Apparel

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    Gear Report: Winter Biking Apparel

    Wednesday I finally got to test out my new biking apparel with some actual winter weather (not the 69 degree temperatures last week that had me back to shorts and t-shirt). It was 7 degrees with a stiff headwind when I rode to BC and I wanted to find the right balance of clothing so that I would be warm without getting sweaty. Last time I biked in this weather, my core would get too warm with a nylon shell over fleece or wool while my extremities, especially my feet would get painfully cold.

    The major improvement I’ve made this time around is buying an REI Neo soft-shell jacket made of stretch-woven nylon that blocks the wind but also breathes enough to avoid trapping moisture from the inside. For most weather between 30 and 50 degrees, I can wear this over a single REI polypropylene base layer and tweak my temperature with different head coverings (thin balaclava and fleece neck gator). On my lower half, I wear a pair of stretch-woven nylon pants over biking shorts, with Smartwool snow-boarding socks and Shimano biking shoes on my feet.

    When the temperature dropped into the nippier range on Wednesday, I just added an thermal underwear top and bottom underneath my normal outfit. With both head coverings thin balaclava and fleece neck gator and my warm mittens, I was able to stay comfortable most of the ride after I got warmed up enough that my body heat began escaping through the only uncovered area of my body-my eyes (I’m not ready to wear ski goggles yet-that would take things to a new level of biking dorkiness). I was impressed at how warm my feet stayed thanks to the Smartwool and the Shimanos (with are thicker than my old Nikes). On the whole, this combination felt just right–not to cold, not too sweaty.

    So that’s the gear report for any of you who bike in the winter. I’d be interested to hear if anyone has other all-weather biking gear that they recommend.

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    Martin Luther King, Jr. the Pillow Fighter

    Yesterday at St. James’s, Harvey Cox was our guest preacher as part of a sermon series on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Cox first met King in 1956 and they became friends while worked together during Civil Rights Movement. Cox spoke movingly of the central role faith played in King’s life and work, and described the profound effect King had on his life. I particularly appreciated learning more about King as real person, someone who was able to laugh at his own pretensions and who would host vigorous pillow fights in his hotel room at the end of long day of non-violent resistance. Just before King was killed, Cox recalled knocking on his hotel room to be greeted by King with disheveled hair and pillow feathers covering his shoulders. This would be Cox’s last image of King, and he felt there was no better way to remember this great man.

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    Classical Music Graffiti, or the Promise of Placecasting

    Earlier this week I noticed that a fellow patron of the JP Licks men’s restroom felt inspired to jot “Gustav Holst 9 planets” on the baby-changing table with black marker. Perhaps it was playing on his iPod as he was taking care of business and he felt compelled to leave an inscription of this sublime listening experience on the nearest wall. Now that our listening experiences happen more often while we are out and about, perhaps this is a natural impulse–to connect our music memories to places.

    In fact, a exploding number of networked geo-annotation projects offer digital outlets this impulse, and as with every other nuance of networked culture, a neologism now exists to describe it:

    placecasting ‘: networked publishing of digital media (esp. audio) that is logically associated with a physical location, to be experienced by suitably equipped people in that location.

    Placecasting would allow the music lover I describe to attach Holst to the JP licks bathroom (or perhaps JP Licks more generally, to be inclusive) such that anyone else with the right networked device would be able to listen to it here.

    And the social networking aspects of this digital annotation would enable allow others to satisfy their need to comment on the original post, as another patron of the bathroom did the next day:

    “John Williams made a career outta ripping of him off! So much for public domain”

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    Geni and the Shakuhachi Funk Sextet

    Last night Cathy, Edward, and I took in a great show by our new friend Geni from St. James’s at Ryles in Inman Square. In addition to being an accomplished flutist, Geni distinguishes himself by playing jazz with a shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, and the shakulute, a traditional flute with a bamboo headpiece. Throughout the evening, he treated us to his own tunes as well as fresh versions of songs by Sting, Theolonious Monk, and Violent Femmes. He also brought up a vocalist for a few Brazilian tunes and his instructor from Berkeley for some tag-team flute virtuosity. Looking forward to your new album, Geni.

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    Yesterday Numenius gave me the heads up the Lisa Williams went live with her directory of place blogs at Congratulations, Lisa!

    It’s quite an accomplishment to pull something like this together, an effort I appreciate because I attempted something similar earlier this summer and gave up once I remembered that I hadn’t finished my dissertation (funny how that slips my mind sometimes). What I find interesting is that Lisa and I were developing place blogging directories using Drupal at the same time while living a few miles apart in the Boston area but without having met each other. By July I had developed and abandoned my revised Ecotone site at and by early August Lisa had bet a colleague that she could collect 1000 place blogs from around the country. I don’t know if she’s reached the 1000 mark yet or not, but she must be close, and promises to be a useful showcase for this genre of blogging.

    Lisa’s definition of place blogs is a useful one:

    A placeblog is an act of sustained attention to a particular place over time
    It can be done by one person, a defined group of people, or in a way that’s open to community contribution
    It’s not a newspaper, though it may contain random acts of journalism
    It’s about the lived experience of a place

    Lisa has spoken a couple of times at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, and you can listen to her discuss the project by visiting the Berkman archives.

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