Saturday, November 16, 2013

Coffeeneuring trip #7 and wrap-up

I can't believe this is my final report for the Third Annual Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge. I've really enjoyed participating in it, and using it to explore my city and to challenge myself to go places by bike.

Here's a recap of my first six trips:

  • Trip 1, 10/6
    • Location: Starbucks in Magnolia
    • 9.32 miles
    • Grande Passion iced tea

  • Trip 2, 10/13
    • Location: CaffĂ© Umbria, Pioneer Square
    • 6.37 miles
    • Soy latte

  • Trip 3, 10/20
    • Location: Great Harvest Bread Company, Lake Forest Park (my first out-of-city coffeeneuring trip!)
    • 30.87 miles
    • Drip coffee, some sort of delicious savory pastry

  • Trip 4, 10/27
    • Location: The Bagel Deli, Capitol Hill
    • 12.14 miles
    • Drip coffee, an everything bagel with scrambled egg, cheese, and tomato (and a half-dozen to go!)

  • Trip 5, 11/3
    • Location: Mighty-O Donuts, Tangletown/Green Lake (if you don't consider Tangletown a real thing)
    • 10.5 miles
    • Drip coffee, pumpkin spice & french toast doughnuts (organic, vegan, non-GMO)

  • Trip 6, 11/9
    • Location: Empire Espresso, Columbia City
    • 14.89 miles
    • Soy cayenne mocha, sweet potato bar

  • Trip 7, today, 11/16!
    • Location: Neptune Coffee, Greenwood
    • 22.49 miles (all in jeans & boat shoes, might I add) This brings the coffeeneuring total mileage to 106.58.
    • Some sort of fancy pour-over coffee that was tasty but a bit cold, and an egg & cheese breakfast sandwich (at around 2pm)

It was too loud and crowded to be productive, so I thought about going to the Greenwood library, but I ended up heading north on the Interurban trail, and wound up in Shoreline (no longer Seattle, in case you're keeping score). It was going to start getting dark soon, so I decided to head back down toward home, stopping at the Broadview library to cross it off my self-guided "visit all SPL branch libraries" challenge, and pick up a novel. When's the last time I read a novel? Summer. Maybe it hasn't been all that long. There's a few spots on the Interurban where it's actually a trail and there's these flipbook art installations. It's hard to see, but each sign is roughly the same image, but moving toward something different. Public art like this is a reason to love Seattle. 

One of the installations
As I was heading home, it was getting dark, and I knew the ride would be mostly flat and downhill. I started without anything warm on--just jeans and a relatively thin cardigan. Piece by piece, I ended up in gloves, a hat, and a scarf. I never ended up needing my zip-up hoodie, though!
A tired coffeeneur
Coffeeneuring has been a whole lot of fun. To be honest, I had hoped it would be a community-building experience. It probably could have been, but I've been way too busy these last few months to make it happen. Many of my coffeeneuring trips were done before or after work, so I was fairly limited in availability. I'm just glad to have used it to drink good coffee and have an excuse to go to different places. Thank you for organizing this challenge, Mary!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bloggin' the thesis, day 1.

I've been enjoying bike blogging, I have a MA thesis to write, and they say blogging your dissertation can be amazingly helpful. I make no claims that an MA thesis even holds a candle to a PhD dissertation in terms of amount of research, length, and tendency to life-suck its author, but they're both independent, long-term projects during which very few people care what it is you're doing. I really enjoyed writing my undergrad thesis, and I was pretty self-motivated to do the work for it. Still, having a real human to check in with once a week who was genuinely interested in my project and academic development probably helped quite a freaking bit in getting the project done. So as I've had a tendency to do since moving to Seattle for grad school, I'm outsourcing interpersonal communication to the internet (because the guinea pigs, while wonderful and cuddly, aren't a great academic sounding board). Each week, on Wednesday, I'll publish a post here about what I'm doing or finding interesting as it'll relate to my MA thesis. Wednesday works for two reasons: 1) I thought of this today, a Wednesday, and 2) Wednesday was my favorite check-in day in college, both for cello lessons and research-y meetings.

I'm genuinely interested in my topic, even if I see its life in my hands ending with a ProQuest submission this spring quarter. It seems that some people in my internet circles think I have a cool topic, and might be interested to see what's up (and even comment? That may be asking for too much). Really, I need a bit of accountability, and to at least have the possibility that I'll be writing for people interested in what I'm doing for reasons other than being on my committee.

*     *     *

I got into musicology in the first place because classical music and the United States have a very strange relationship.* Learning about that relationship sheds a lot of light on classical music as a conglomeration of genres, and also on the US and its capacity for taste-making. I'm interested now in how the US is musically constructed through Coplandia, music that sounds like a watered-down version of Aaron Copland's populist ballets and chamber music. It works through film music history, something I didn't think I would find interesting but am now seeing as a gold mine. For me, the most self-aware instance of this was in John Williams's "Air and Simple Gifts," for Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
Barack Obama was the first president I voted for, and though I was out of the country for his inauguration, I sure as heck knew about this piece when I returned. Anne Midgette rightly pointed out that this is hardly a new composition, but rather a really transparent copy of Copland's treatment of "Simple Gifts" in Appalachian Spring (1944), and also a musical exaggeration of Obama's campaign message. Before the "Simple Gifts" melody enters (in the clarinet, just as Copland had introduced the melody 65 years earlier), and after it ends, there is a generic post-Romantic film music sound. It's not the Americana of Coplandia, but it is tonal, palatable, and accessible.

My project has several angles, and I haven't entirely figured out how it will play out. I'm more interested in the body of commercial music I'm calling Coplandia than in Williams's "Air and Simple Gifts," and see the two existing in a sort of type/token relationship. One step in figuring out how everything comes together is exploring the compositional sources of Coplandia, and their work in constructing part of the American classical music canon. I'm thinking about the way that canon gets gendered in a seminar this quarter, and currently preparing a project on masculinities in mid-century American classical music. That'll be the focus of my next post, where I'll hopefully be able to explain why gendering of this particular canon matters.

*Actually, that's a lie. I got into musicology because I wrote a hermeneutic analysis of the scherzo movement of Beethoven's A Major cello sonata for a music history class, and found that super fun. Don't ask me why.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Coffeeneuring #6

I went to Empire Espresso in Columbia City (they don't have a functional website, but here's their blog that is marginally organized). My ride was just under 15 miles round trip, but check out the elevation changes throughout. I've heard people say that South Seattle gets the short shrift on bike infrastructure, but I rode with sharrows/protected lanes/quasi-neighborhood greenways almost the entire time. The real barrier to biking in South Seattle is geography! Oh, the hills. I had no idea what the best route would be, so I tried a different suggested route each way. The way down was nice on 31st, with a great view of Lake Washington/the Cascades, and occasionally even the Olympics. Getting to 31st on Yesler was fun--big hills! I got off and walked part of it in the ID, but otherwise made it up & down in low gears. There were some interesting green boxes that made me not have to drive parallel to streetcar tracks (is there a streetcar there? was there? will there be? I don't know), so that was nice.  I should have taken pictures, but I didn't. I didn't enjoy the last few blocks on Rainier, but having read this post on privilege, taking the lane, and such a few days ago with regards to that same road (though I only was on it for a few blocks, not the entire way from i-90). On the way back, I took Beacon Ave until I saw signs directing me downtown, and then through the ID (stopping at Uwajimaya, because it's the best), back up 4th, through the Seattle Center, and back home. Next time I'm heading that way, I'll do Beacon both ways--fewer dramatic hills. I'm actually surprised by how not exhausted I am, but I'm sure I'll feel it later.

Empire Espresso
8oz soy cayenne pepper mocha (light on the chocolate)
sweet potato bar
14.89 miles round trip

Only one more trip to go!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Coffeeneuring trip #5

I had planned to do this trip a few weeks ago, but got delayed. I finally made it to Mighty-O Donuts in Tangletown, home of non-GMO, organic, vegan doughnuts. I clearly live in Seattle, in case that wasn't evident. This is the kind of vegan food you give to your omnivorous relatives and don't tell them it's vegan until after they're done licking their fingers. Oh-my-goodness. I had one french toast and one pumpkin spice, and they were great. The french toast was just delicious, and the pumpkin spice actually tasted like pumpkin, not just cinnamon and nutmeg. The coffee wasn't great, but I more-or-less expected that. I didn't care; I was there for the donuts and to see if I could ride up Stone. I also finally bought a Bicycle Benefits sticker ($5, sold at any BB participating business), which made one of the donuts free. I wasn't very productive during this trip, which I'll attribute to the small, loud-ish shop, and the weak wifi signal. Worse things have happened! I still have 2 more trips to do, and 2 more shops in neighborhoods I rarely visit but really like on my list. Hoping to get to them for this challenge!

Ride details:
10.5 miles, from home back to home. My usual route to Fremont (which is part of my daily commute) includes Dexter, but I wanted to save myself that hill, so I went the extra block or so over to Westlake and rode through the parking lot. I got honked at by a middle-aged woman in a SUV at the corner of 34th and Stone for existing on a bike and trying to turn left, waiting for the red turn arrow to turn green. She threw up her hands once we stopped (for the light), and I gestured that I was turning left and the light was red anyway. These things shouldn't bother me, but they do. I rode up Stone, which was a long, but not too steep, hill. I welcomed the flat road once I got to 45th or so. I didn't expect 55th over to Keystone to be a hill, though. On the way back, I took part of the new(ish) Wallingford Neighborhood Greenway, from Meridian back to Stone on 44th & 43rd. I like the idea of these SNGs--lots of signage directing bikes (and peds too, but not primarily) through quiet neighborhood streets instead of taking bike lanes (or not!) on busy arterials. They work well in north Seattle because of the low density--they wouldn't work so well downtown, or in busier cities. Crossing Wallingford Ave was a bit awkward, as was turning left to go back down Stone. Otherwise, I'm a fan!