Intern Punks, and the Failure of Science to Teach (Movie) History


The education system in the United States is broken, we all know that. There are several theories about why this is, but that's not what this post is about. This is about intern punks. I work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and I am happy to do so. I also commute by bus more often than not, which I'm also happy to do. But now that we're into the summer season, a huge influx of dorky college kids have flooded into Boulder, and we all compete for seats on the "GS" regional bus from Boulder and Golden and back each day, and this has been a source of irritation for me these last couple weeks, as the intern population…

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2010 in the Rearview


It's been a while since I've posted anything at all on this blog. I blame Facebook; too easy to snap a photo with my phone and upload it, too easy to link to funny or interesting things on the interwebs via FB or Twitter. But something has been lost in the process. And so begins the list of resolutions: I will try to migrate back to this blog for my vocal and visual outlet, my complaint outpost, my therapy. 2010 was a mixed bag, but I suppose that's the way it is for anyone alive. So, here in 2011, being alive, I suppose I'm up on points -- as are all of you. Specifically: In January 2010, my dear sweet…

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Lettin' the Cat Outta the Bag


I know, it's been a while. Here's the thing: I got a new job! After almost four years at the firm I work for, I am moving on to a new job, in a new town. It's still a lighting/daylighting/sustainable design job, but it's in an entirely different setting for me: a national laboratory. To say I'm excited understates things a smidge. In a few weeks, I (and my co-worker) will be the new resident daylighting "experts" at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, down the road in Golden, CO. I'll be applying my skills as a lighting designer and simulator, hopefully assisting research aimed at helping us bring light into buildings in more sustainable and useful ways. I'm…

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The Horror of Bike to Work Day


Today in Colorado it's "Bike to Work Day", part of the greater "Walk and Bike Month" promoted by the state and various organizations. (Nationally, this event happens in April or May, but in Colorado there could be a foot of snow on the roads then, so we do it a little later here.) Now, on the surface of things, this is great. a major promotion of the use of alternative transportation, to open your eyes to the wonders of commuting outside of that steel box you drive the rest of the year. In the spirit of promoting the event and rewarding the riders and walkers, businesses all over Boulder set up stands and hand out free breakfasts and free samples…

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Crash


So, my fabulous weekend came to an abrupt halt this morning, quite literally. As I was flying though the air, I thought, yep, weekend's over. Lemme back up a bit. I was riding to work, about to join the Foothills bike path when this dude making a right onto the Boulder Creek Path decides he's just going to use the entire bike path to make his turn. Problem was, I was thinking I might just use the right half of the path myself. We collided, I went flying up and over him and ended up on my back, thinking "what the hell just happened?" By the time I got to the office I was a little light headed and was…

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What are YOU lookin' at?!


I came across this very interesting art piece, by way of Kottke's website. It upset me. First of all, this guy is essentially ripping off Walker Evans. Walker did it better, far better, and he did it seventy friggin' years ago. But there's more to this story. The Walker Evans photos from his 1938 project are really haunting because they were taken with a hidden camera; they capture the very souls of New Yorkers trying to endure the daily grind of city life. These Bill Sullivan photos are more in the "caught on camera" vein, which is a little more obvious -- more supermarket tabloid work than photographic art, and it annoys me that this is being peddled as the…

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First Snow


So, last Tuesday, Boulder got hit with its first snow of the year. The forecasts were calling for the possibility of "flurries" later on in the day, but the way it went down was that the flakes started falling around noon, and didn't stop 'till Wednesday morning. Around 6:30 pm, I decided that things weren't going to improve for a long time, and, despite being totally unprepared for the winter weather, I headed home on my bike. No gloves, no hat, no rain gear. At least I had a headlight on my bike. A couple minutes into the ride, my front was completely white and I was slipping and sliding all over the place. The tires I bought a…

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Happiness is a Bicycle Commute


A year ago, I would have been affected by this: "Power Failure Snarls Commuter Traffic" A year ago, I would have been one of those poor bastards shuffling along for a MILE to get to some other mode of transportation, cursing the whole way. A year ago, today's latest regular dismal failure of the northeast corridor railway system would have likely hatched a profanity-laden tirade about how shitty my day was, followed by several gin and tonics. But today, I rolled out of my house and took pictures of the goats (yeah, that's right, goats) trimming the field across the street from my house, and arrived at the office 5-10 minutes later after dodging prarie dogs on the bike path…

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Attention Passengers


"Attention New Jersey Transit Rail Passengers: We still, like, totally suck." You know, these last few weeks I had noticed that the trains were running fairly close to on time, the majority of the time. I almost said something about it, but didn't want to jinx anything. But obviously someone out there did say something, because we're back to square one on the whole NJT performance thing, and I'm as filled with hatred for that miserable transit system as ever. Last week I arrived to this mess of a scene at Penn Station: that's the entire main concourse completely solid with pissed-off humanity. A brush fire earlier in the day had screwed up rail traffic for hours and trains weren't…

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Deal


(bring bring) Hi. Yeah. You still in the office? Yeah, I'm on the train. No, I can talk. (earpice in, he places his Wall Street Journal on the seat between us -- yuk.) Yeah. No, yeah, I read it. Uh huh. Well, they think we can just put together a term sheet now, and I... I uh... I just don't think we're there yet. No. Yeah. Well, quite frankly, I read it, and I don't understand it. Yeah! (laughing) These guys, they think, quite franklyyyyy, that uhhhh, we can just do this deallll, and frankly, it ahhhhh, just doesn't work that way (sanctimonious guffaw)! No. Yeah. Yep. Well these guys, they think they're giving us SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS for a…

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He's Baaaack...


Remember the guy who always complained about his commute? He's back. I have tried to keep my complaints to myself about NJ Transit's absolutely horrid service on the Northeast Corridor, but today I am forced to once again complain. It was 13 degrees before wind chill outside, when I said goodbye to Brenda this morning. As her car sped off, I heard the announcement: "due to a broken down train, all trains bound for New York are subject to at least a 30 minute delay". I noted the time and the cause of the delay, as both of these things tend to change as time goes on. Waiting on the open platform, I adjusted my coat as best I could…

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The Ten Foot Commute


I could get used to this. My computers are ten feet from the bathroom, so after a quick shower it’s a few paces and I’m at my “office”. Oh sure, the RNC has scared away lots of people from the regular nexus of commuter angst that is New York’s Penn Station, but I’m not taking the bait; I’ll wait till Dubya has butchered his speech and the conservatives have packed up their shit and headed back to the red states before I go back to Metropark station to make my dreaded sojurn to the city. In the meantime, I’m loving this work from home gig. Aside…

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Home Office


On any given weekday, about 600,000 people pass through Penn Station in midtown Manhattan, on their way to and from work. Located directly above this train megalopolis sits Madison Square Garden—home arena to the Knicks & Rangers, site of countless concerts and other sporting events, and beginning tomorrow, home base for the conservative religious party and their homophobic imperialistic right-wing upper class love-in, which they call the Republican National Convention. So, one of the busiest, most congested buildings in all of New York City, terminal to one of the most inefficient mass transit systems ever, will close 90% of its entrances, and close most of its perimeter pedestrian walkways to all traffic. As an added bonus, all…

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Hellfire on the 8:12 express


As I walked up the aisle of the train car this morning, I was delighted to see so many “three-ers” available. A three-er is a triple-wide bench seat designed to hold three people across, in relative comfort, assuming all three occupants are the anorexic Olsen twin. The reality is that when three “normal” sized people sit in one three-er, it’s close quarters indeed. Think coach class, on the 9:29 positioning flight from Abilene to Lubbock. The key to commuting in bliss is to find a three-er that’s already occupied by someone who has spilled over into the center seat, rendering the three-er a two-er for all intents and purposes. And today,…

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Cranial Eclipse


<p>(If you can&#8217;t take a joke, hit the back button now, OK?)</p> <p>Uhm, this was so weird I just had to share. Maybe the guy I&#8217;m talking about will read this and score a helpful tip.</p> <p>Tonight, on the train home from work, a Jewish man boarded the train. This in itself is not unusual. However, this man had jet black hair, and was sporting a black yarmulke as well (again, not unusual). Problem is, his bald spot was about a half inch larger in diameter than his yarmulke. The 1/4&#8221; ring of white skin exposed…

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I’m not the only one


Several of my friends have noted that I tend to complain a lot about my commute. This is true. I think that many of them are wondering when the hell I’m gonna get over it and shut up already, thinking that I’m a big baby and that I should stop complaining. To that I say probably never, yes I am and no I should not. And today I feel vindicated. Today I read about someone else with similar feelings toward some of his fellow rail riders. Today I feel like I have a partner on the train, today I celebrate the fact that I am not alone in my angst-addled thoughts as I ride the train.…

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Packing Terricloth


<p>Yesterday I got cut off by a guy coming out of the 34th Street subway exit. He was all dressed up in the tough-guy threads of a gang banger&#8212;baggy jeans, big Timberland boots, do-rag. He&#8217;d be intimidating, but I just got off the 8:13 express from Metropark and had enough attitude to take over the big meet in the Bronx in &#8220;The Warriors&#8221;. Besides, the dude was carrying a bright red Lord &#38; Taylor&#8217;s bag that was loaded with neatly folded purple towels for some reason. He might have been packing heat, but he was also packing terricloth . I stepped on his…

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