Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pat's Bicycle Life

I love this image that my friend Jonas put this image together for me (thanks, Jonas!). Now that I've got a bike stand (borrowed from my friend, Mike), I feel more fully engaged in the bicycle life than ever.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Reframing our personal map

Without a car, we've started to realize that our personal landscape has shifted in scale and scope. For obvious reasons, we no longer go to grocery stores 7 miles away (yes, I do miss weekly visits to Russo's). It makes a lot more sense to hit the local Trader Joe's and Stop & Shop with the bike and trailer.

I've also noticed that having a car allowed us to be complacent about the professional services we receive. When we first moved to Boston in 2000, it took a while to find a pediatric dentist. My son has some special needs that made finding the right dentist pretty important. Even though we lived in Roxbury, we ended up going to a dentist in Cambridge. Even after we moved to Brookline, we kept going to Cambridge. But we had a car, so it could work. Even though we could have looked for someone closer, we never took the trouble. It's a hassle to change your dentist, doctor, vet, hairdresser. It's much easier to stay in the same routine. But going to professionals outside your neighborhood comes at a cost--there is an environmental impact of the travel, it eats up extra time from your life, and your money supports an office and workers in a town that's not your own.

A couple weeks ago, I had to take the kids to the dentist for checkups. But the appointment was too close to the end of school to effectively get there by bus, so I ended up renting a zipcar. With traffic, it took us almost an hour to get there (it's about 4 miles from home). Going to the dentist ended up consuming three hours and cost $30 in car rental fees. When I had our own car, I wouldn't have noticed the cost (though it was still costing me), and I would have ignored the time spent.

I've since found a new dentist for the kids, one that we can walk or bike to. And all it took was a couple e-mails to other parents at my son's school, and a phone call to the dental offices. I should have made the change years ago, but the convenience of the car allowed the situation to continue (even though it actually was less convenient).

(It turns out that our old dentist is retiring anyway, so we wouldn't have gotten to see him much anymore anyway.)

More and more, we're rethinking how we're accessing life around us and bringing it back closer to home.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saroukh el-Jamahiriya (Libyan Rocket) 2009

Here is the 2009 version of Muammar Gaddafis "Saroukh el-Jamahiriya (Libyan Rocket)" a car which made its debut in 1999, exactly 10 years ago.

The “Libyan Rocket”, as the prototype is called, is described as an “elegant sedan” 17 feet long, more than six feet wide, with a 3-liter, V-6 gasoline engine.

According to the BBC and Fox News, it also has airbags, an unspecified ‘electronic defense system’, and a collapsible bumper.

The car can go hundreds of miles on a flat tire, a feature that could come in handy while driving in the vast Libyan desert. Other safety features include a device to cut off the fuel supply to avoid a fire in case of accident.

Domenico Morali, CEO of Tesco TS SpA, an automotive design company based in Turin, Italy, said Qaddafi joined in discussions about the car’s styling and asked for an original car using Libyan materials including marble, leather and fabric.

The car was unveiled in Tripoli at the end of an African Union summit.

According to the BBC, construction of a factory to produce the car was to have began in October 2009 in Tripoli. (ANI)