Sunday, November 16, 2014

Coffeeneuring 2014

This year's coffeeneuring was an exploration of specialty coffee in Philadelphia (with two exceptions).

Rule summary: bike to 7 coffee shops in 7 weekends, and make each trip at least 2 miles. Take a photo. All my miles are measured in "ish" distance. They're also dramatically less than last year's coffeeneuring mileage (with one notable exception). Things in Philly are just so much closer together than they are in Seattle!

#1. Date: 10/4/14
Destination: Volo, 4630 Main Street (Manayunk), Philadelphia
Miles: 20
Drinks: drip coffee for me, cappuccino for G
Notes: This run was supposed to be up to Crossroads in Roxborough, but they closed about 10 minutes after we got there. On the way, we conquered (basically) the Manayunk Wall, but didn't actually conquer it and ended up walking 2 or 3 of the blocks. (Also, we were technically a block or 2 over, but still did the same elevation.) When Crossroads was closed, we coasted back down the hill and found coffee. Volo serves La Colombe coffee, fwiw.
Drip, bagel w/cream cheese, cappuccino, G's hands

#2. Date: 10/11–13/14
Destination: French Creek State Park, Elverson, PA, for Coffee Shop Without Walls. (We drank Joe coffee)
Miles: About 100
Drinks: Joe coffee in a french press. Same thing but cold brew the second morning. It was hard to make a fire with wet firewood.
Notes: We didn't actually bike on the day that the coffee picture was taken, but there was plenty of biking the day of the cold brew coffee. As far as I can tell, French Creek is the only PA state park with camping in reasonable biking distance from Philly. I recommend going, but with a granny gear. My loaded-up 12-speed Univega wasn't exactly enough to get me up the hills into the park. We were the only people who biked to get there (also as far as I can tell), but there was a heckuva lot of mountain biking in the park. We did not partake.
French press coffee

bonus "look at all the gear" touring shot
#3. Date: 10/19/14
Destination: Menagerie Coffee, 18 S. 3rd St (Old City), Philadelphia.
Miles: 12
Drinks: cappuccino for me, hand pour for G
Notes: Menagerie is (and continues to be) wonderful, but they weren't the highlight of this trip. We biked over the Ben Franklin to Camden, and headed over to Harleigh Cemetery and found Walt Whitman's tomb. That was pretty special.
cappuccino, cinnamon bun, hand pour

#4. Date: 10/26/14
Destination: Rival Bros, 2400 Lombard St (Fitler Square), Philadelphia
Miles: Not very many. Probably about 4.
Drinks: espresso for me, hand pour for G. Yes, this happened 2x in a row.
Notes: There's a lot of specialty coffee in Philly. This was a great, accessible location. Lots of (presumably) grad students hanging out there doing work on a Sunday.
espresso, hand pour, glass of sparkling water

#5. Date: 11/2/14
Destination: Reanimator, 310 W Master St (South Kensington), Philadelphia
Miles: 6
Drinks: cappuccino for me, hand pour for G
Notes: Probably my favorite of the shops we visited. They're the only destination on the list that roasts in-house. Also, they hadn't taken down the halloween decorations yet, so that was pretty excellent.
cappuccino, hand pour, hands
#6. Date: 11/8/14
Destination: Joe, 3200 Chestnut St (University City), Philadelphia
Miles: 7
Drinks: hand pour for both
Notes: Specialty coffee on the Drexel campus? Well, sure. Lots of undergrads & their visiting families. But the coffee was great, as was the shop.

#7. Date: 11/16/14
Destination: High Point Cafe, 2831 W Girard Ave (Brewerytown), Philadelphia
Miles: 7.5
Drinks: cortados (single & double)
Notes: They're closing at the end of the month! Lovely shop, though. They're staying open in Mt. Airy, though, for those bold enough to venture so far away. (I realize Mt. Airy isn't *actually* far away, but it may as well be Canada—or just the suburbs?—from where I sit.)
cortados & a crepe
Coffeeneuring 2014 is in the books! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How to move cross-country in a rental truck with a guinea pig

The guinea pig beat is not my normal beat, but there was a dearth of information related to these circumstances. Here I am, chiming in, hoping this post will be well-indexed by search engines for future reference.

I recently moved from Seattle to Philadelphia in a rental truck, with my guinea pig. (I previously had two guinea pigs, but one died from lymphoma weeks before the journey.) Guinea pigs aren't allowed on any airlines I could find, so I wrangled a friend to fly out and make the drive with me. I spoke with my vet before the trip, asking for tips on moving via truck with a guinea pig. She suggested a large tupperware with holes drilled to hook up a water bottle, and paper lunch bags for hiding. I went to Fred Meyer and found the tupperware, and drilled the appropriate holes. Guinea pig forums suggested newspaper and fleece for the bottom, so that was my plan. I also planned to keep a shoebox of hay in the cab, in addition to juicy vegetables. I gave her lots of hay, but not so much that she was swamped in it.

My guinea pig Sally is a diva. She's a high-maintenance guinea pig who thinks highly of herself. Yes, I can tell. She was born to a rescued show pig on January 3, 2013, and I adopted her that May. She was spayed in August.

Wondering what's going on

Day 1: Sally wasn't thrilled with me packing up the apartment, but it was alright. But as soon as I started driving, she freaked out. I first had to remove the water bottle from the cage, since it rattled and dripped with the truck's motion. She was terrified of the motion and sound, and immediately burrowed under the fleece (so, just barely above the newspaper, when she didn't kick that out of the way). I had my co-driver empty and take the top off a tissue box so she could use that for hiding. She didn't take the bait. The whole first day of driving was bad for this pig. I tried to let her run around in the hotel room, but she hid under the bed and was hard to retrieve. I made the decision that she wouldn't do much running around on the trip, and hoped it wouldn't hinder her overall health. She seems to have gained a bit of weight, but nothing troubling.

Day 2–7: The next day was a million times better. I lined the cage with newspaper, towel, then fleece, and continued out. She was a champion. This continued through the remaining six days of the trip. The most difficult parts for me were dealing with her water and changing the cage bedding. At one point, she had peed one two many times on the tissue box, so I replaced it with a paper bag from breakfast. I did this once more. My piggie loves hiding in paper bags.

Water: Since the water bottle couldn't be in the cage while we were moving, I had to get creative. The water bottle would always stay in the cage whenever the truck wasn't moving. Even at gas stations. But when we were driving, she would want her water bottle. She started nosing her head up to where the water bottle usually would be, and then I would know to carefully offer it to her. It was like attachment-parenting a guinea pig.

Food: Hay, pellets, veggies. If I was eating an apple or a banana, she'd get a little piece. If she was wheeking and confused, she'd get a piece of romaine (kept in my insulated lunch box, though it didn't last as many days as it would in an actual fridge). Normally these are nighttime-only things, but stressful situations with non-verbal animals call for a little bit of appeasement. If I did something to make her mad, like take her in for lunch, she'd get a baby carrot (ONLY one daily--it's important to remember that guinea pigs can't eat carrots like Bugs Bunny). Every night would end with a Daily C tablet.

Bedding: I stocked up on free newspapers before I left Seattle, so that was never in short supply. I also had thrift store towels and fleece that I had long been using as bedding. I ended up removing some dirty things and uneaten food from the cage every night, but I only completely cleaned it out three times. The first was on the first night, after I realized I needed a better system. The second, two days later in a hotel room. This time, I hand washed the towel and fleece in the sink, and hung them out to dry overnight. The towel didn't dry (of course), so it got crammed in a plastic bag for later re-washing. The penultimate night I spent at my parents' house, so I took advantage of their laundry there. The second day in my new house, I made a new cube & coroplast setup; the old coroplast was too gross to transport cross-country (it was the first one I had made, so it wasn't picture-perfect), but the cubes were fine!

Stops: "Don't leave your guinea pig in the car," as I was told by everyone on- and off-line. Duh, but yes, good advice. When it was still cool, there were some gas stops or (very) quick meal stops where it was alright to leave her in the car with the windows rolled down a little. On the second day, I realized how middle-of-nowhere I was, and got nervous about birds flying into the truck and disturbing her. From that point, I brought her in wherever we were going in her carrier. This pig even traveled to the monument at Mount Rushmore! Nowhere I went had a problem with guinea pigs. I didn't necessarily ask, but I took "no pets" to mean "no dogs," since they all had pictures of dogs, and seemed worried about dog energy/bathroom situations.
Thinking about eating, but really just annoyed

Yes, I'll eat this lettuce

At Mount Rushmore

Second-to-last day of driving. Exhausted (or just sleeping all day like a guinea pig should do).

Visiting the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. They had another guinea pig visitor the previous day!

The real lesson from all this is: use common sense, and keep Critical Care onhand, just in case. I was worried that she would stop eating because of the stressful situation, but there were never any issues. The trip with this pig wasn't easy, but we all survived. Finally, I recommend keeping your Instagram followers updated on the trip, because everyone loves an oversharing guinea pig parent.

Exploring the new place

Friday, March 28, 2014

You really don't want to #CancelColbert.

Disclaimer: I'm speaking personally, certainly not for anyone else. I'm interested in hearing alternative critiques of comedy, satire, race, and identity, especially in the context of Stephen Colbert.

I have better things to do right now than shout into the echobox of criticism and defense of Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, DFA, First Lady of France. But as a longtime, avid fan of Colbert's satire and self-satire, I feel a bubbling of internet rage that I need to address.

This post by Jessica Wakeman summarizes the situation well, and has all the requisite video links. Colbert (in character) satirized Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, who didn't bow to #ChangeTheName pressure, and instead "created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation" in a somewhat pathetic attempt at appeasement through poorly-directed charity. The Colbert Report brought back a clip of the show from 2005 with Colbert's intentionally racist character Ching-Chong Ding-Dong, and modern-day Colbert, after "reporting" on Snyder's foundation, introduced the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever. As often happens, Colbert's line from the show was tweeted (and quickly deleted) by the @ColbertReport account out of context, and inspired a knee-jerk #CancelColbert campaign, arguing that progressive satire punches up (not down), and that Colbert's sketch was blatantly racist.

In addition to Wakeman's post (The Frisky) linked above, here are some other smart responses I've read to the controversy.

Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post
Erin Gloria Ryan, Jezebel
James Poniewozik, Time
John Aravosis, AmericaBlog

To synthesize these writers, Colbert's sketch does punch up, though on the surface, punches down. Viewed in context with the reporting on Snyder and the Redskins, Colbert is creating a (fake) charity to make up for his unabashed use of an offensive character (Ding-Dong), paralleling Snyder's refusal to alter the Redskins in name or mascot, and creation of a charity he hopes will be a hush fund. The point is that it's racist, especially when viewed out of context with the rest of the program, and Colbert's long-running character.

When you explain humor, it becomes unfunny. I know. But the reason the Colbert Report works (at least for me) is that Colbert's character makes himself look bad in order to expose hypocrisy. One of the better recent examples of Colbert doing good was in his interview with trans* activist Janet Mock, who had previously been misunderstood and misrepresented by CNN host Piers Morgan. For a < six-minute interview, Colbert does a heckuva lot to make himself look bad, elevate Mock, and show how easy re-education can be, while remaining seriously funny.

The last thing I want to do is argue that one good deed makes up for a lifetime of poor choices, but I do think that Colbert's pattern of satire shows generally good intentions, and a clawing at boundaries of acceptable behavior.

My larger feeling about this whole #CancelColbert "shitstorm" is that even if Colbert's sketch and statements were truly racist, offensive-to-all, and grounds for outrage, he still should not be canceled. Even if that were the case, The Colbert Report is a site of progress, exposure, and bullshit-calling. Humans make mistakes. When pushing boundaries, there are often occurrences of crossing them. Offer a sincere mea culpa, listen, and move on. For Colbert to be canceled would be for someone who is truly trying to leverage his privilege for good to be silenced. That truly wouldn't help anyone. He doesn't even need to explain himself; the critics have already done that work.

While I wholeheartedly support the right, privilege, and obligation for activists to speak up and explain how they are wronged by media culture, Colbert is the wrong target.

And finally, this should go without saying, but sending Suey Park death threats or other forms of abuse on twitter is not even remotely acceptable.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My first errandonnée

I realize I need to change the name of this blog to something much more general, but I don't have the creative brainpower to do so. For now, bear with me.

I enjoyed coffeeneuring enough to get hooked on the accessible bike challenge genre. The errandonnée hosted by Chasing Mailboxes has a ton of rules, too, and lets several errands be completed in a single trip, as long as the total mileage is over 30 for the challenge. Here's how I completed it:

Day 1 3/7/14, total day's mileage=15.76

Errand #1
Category: work
Mileage: 4.84

  • Many vehicle operators of the car and motorcycle variety run red lights at the 6-way intersection just south of the Fremont bridge. I also get honked at if I refuse to run the red light, but I stand my ground, feeling vulnerable on my road bike.
  • I learned how to use this bizarre type of bike rack outside one of the libraries, under an overhang.

Errand #2
Category: bike shop (hoping the co-op counts)
Mileage: 10.9ish
  • Added cages & straps to my pedals, and learned how difficult it is to ride that way after only ever using flat pedals. Also learned how to change brake pads.
  • The Elliott Bay Trail is gorgeous at dusk on a mostly clear day
  • Bonus picture from the trip between UW and The Bikery. Seattle hills! 

Day 2, 3/8/14, 3.97 miles route 

Errand #3
Category: work (though a different work, so I'm comfortable using the work category twice so soon)
Mileage: 1.84
Observation/lesson: There's a lot of construction going on in my neighborhood, and it makes it harder to bike around.

Errand #4, QFC
Category: grocery store
Mileage: 1.47
Observation/lesson: QFC didn't have Cadbury creme eggs, which was a bummer, though good for my health/wallet. Also, I like to take pictures of my bike (even if they come out blurry). It's pretty.

Errand #5, the FedEx store
Category: store other than grocery store
Mileage: .66
Observation/lesson: If I can figure out how to get my left foot into the cage after pushing out, the cage/strap setup will work really well. The security of the cages is great, and helps for going uphill, even if it's just that my feet don't lift off the pedals all the time.

Day 3, 3/9/14

Errand #6, Pho Bac
Category: Breakfast or lunch
Mileage: 1.87
Observation/lesson: All veggie pho is magical.

Errand #7, Lake Union Park
Category: Personal Care & Health (because meditation counts!)
Mileage: 2.56
Observation/lesson: Sitting at the edge of a dock, leaning up against one's bike, and staring at a large body of water is quite wonderful.

Errand #8, Mighty-O Donuts
Category: Dessert or coffee (technically, this could have also been lunch, since donuts were my lunch--don't tell any real adults)
Mileage: from school/work, and I didn't count the to-campus mileage for this day since I had already used up the work category: 2.14
Observation/lesson: As soon as I change into pants appropriate for riding in the rain, the sun will come out. Also, it's better to ride in the sun with rain clothing than for it to constantly rain.

Errand #9, Seattle Public Library, University Branch
Category: Library!
Mileage: .91
Observation/lesson: The cherry blossoms are blooming! See how pretty they are outside the library?

Errand #10, Steelband rehearsal
Category: Community meeting
Mileage: 6.28
Observation/lesson: Playing pan, like riding a bike, is more fun when it becomes a fluid, physical motion, rather than a mental exercise.

Errand #11, the unnamed drive-thru espresso stand just south of the Fremont bridge that I pass all the time
Category: Breakfast or lunch
Mileage: 2.02
Lesson/observation: They have yummy breakfast burritos, and are very friendly.

(I actually put the burrito in my bag, and rode over to Gas Works park, and ate it there. Isn't spring the best?)

Errand #12, Lush
Category: Any store other than a grocery store
Mileage: 9.04
Lesson/observation: I learned a lot about hair and skin care and products. I could spend hundreds of dollars in that store.

Total errandonnée miles: 44.55

Woo! The funny thing about this challenge is that I would have done all of these things had there not been a challenge. It's an odd feeling logging and photographing "normal" life. Odd, in a cool way.