Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day stats, feel free to skip.

Miles Biked: 4
Miles in Car as Passenger, not mooched so car pool points, not even to pick me up: 25
Blog Posts in One Day: 6 (ok, ok, sometimes focusing on work is hard)

Great article about Car Sharing and the cost of owning a Car.

Wow! I didn't know owning a car was so expensive. over at MSN there is a great article Should you share a car? that has some great statistics about the cost of owning a car, and some car share resources. Very nice summary.

Now look at these numbers for the average car ownership costs by city.


Annual cost*

Monthly cost







Los Angeles


















Topeka, Kan.



Grand Forks, N.D.



Sioux Falls, S.D.



Knoxville, Tenn.



National average



*The figures reflect the annual costs, including fuel, routine maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, finance charges and depreciation costs for a 2006 midsize sedan driven 15,000 miles a year for four years.

So taking a page from one of my other favorite blogs My Open Wallet and investing the $9,600 ($800/month x 12 months) saved each year, imagine how much you might have if you invested it conservatively. The article talks about reducing the dependence on foreign oil, environmental and community benefits. Could it work on a large scale?

"I see fat people...."

This is a really politically incorrect post, but I really don't care. Now I am going to confess, I use to be a fatty when I was young, mostly gained when I spent a summer with cousins in LA. Through conscientious effort, I've lost a fair amount of weight, and I've seen the same in friends. It can be done. So now, I'm just mildly overweight, I know I am not out of shape but it's not like I'm the fastest person in the pool or on the road. I share this to say that there is a choice involved, and I think it has to deal with the lives we lead dictating exercise or lack off. People in cities may go to the gym, but they may not. But the act of getting from place A to B involves some expenditure of energy.

T said, when I look around, especially when I go to the Midwestern suburbs where you have to drive everywhere, and even in my corporate offices here in California, all I can say is "I see fat people...."

Stairway to Heavy-n.....

I've been talking about living car free, but one thing that I started doing when I went car free, was that I started going mostly elevator free at work. My office is on the fourth floor, and the rest of our company is on the third. I decided that as part of my fitness regimen that I would start walking up the stairs. Now it's a habit and I have a hard time waiting for the elevator at work, I normally bee line for the stairs, much to the consternation of my co-workers when we head out to lunch. As a bonus, I've probably helped built up some calves, and it's hard to say what is what in my improving stamina, but it's not that big a deal.

So thinking aloud, environmentally, it's using less energy. During our heat wave we had the threat of rolling blackouts. I wonder how much energy we would save if except for the handicapped and for delivery carts, everyone had to use the stairs.

So much of our lives and energy consumption center around "labor" saving devices, but are they really just a way for us to be on the way a "Stairway to Heavy'n"

Old Keys...

Today I was going through my keychain looking for my locker key at work and I realized that I have my bike rack key, my car key, and other keys that I'm not using. It's almost as if my car is another lock, now is it to keep me in or out, I can't remember. How many keys do you have related to your car?

well aren't you a party pooper....

Today I was reading (The San Francisco Chronicle's website) and there was a story about the future traffic congestion here in the Bay Area. Verdict from the liberterian group in the article. It's getting worse and we should abandon mass transit and build toll lanes. Very economic in thought. Monetize time and money in the equation and you can justify anything. My favorite quote is:

"Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease," he said. "We could get a bigger bang for our buck if we just threw in the towel and said everyone's going to drive, so let's build more freeways."

If there is anything that has come out of this experiment is that living car free is not as bad as we think it is, when we are not given a choice. Psychologists and Economists talk about getting use to something and it becomes ordinary, even when it started off special, for instance a high end car. They call that hedonic adapation. The same can be said the reverse, they find that people after an accident that leaves them crippled also return to the same happiness level. Everyone assumes that people will drive because they do now, in Zurich they changed the landscape by giving trolleys priority at lights and it made trolley's faster since they were frequent, it made cars slower. it's a matter of staging the alternatives. Some thoughts on what makes a car free existence easier:

1) First and foremost live close to your work, unfortunately an obsession with real estate and owning has led many people to live far away. The looming real estate bubble if there is one may change this equation.
2) Have lots of nice friends, one of the most interesting things is that acquaintances and friends have been very generous in driving when the circumstances require it. I have used the drive time to get to know many people better, and that has been a rich experience.
3) Be casual, unfortunately if you have to exert effort, you probably want to have a group dynamic that permits casualness. If you have to be on stage, realtor, manager, you probably cannot go from place to place a little sweaty.
4) Relish transit time, it's one of the few times where I get to think.
5) Plan to become more physically fit. When I lived without a car in Taiwan, I stopped going to the gym and started eating more heavy food (oily) but I lost 10 pounds during my three month stay just by walking. My advice, deal with it, you'll have to get new clothes.

Now, this weekend I'm shopping for cars because that's the world we live in here, but there are alternatives. Just imagine.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

tale of two cities

one of the hassles of riding a bike in the suburbs is traffic lights without traffic. now technology has improved a lot of things, and that's true of intersections where congestion control is usually not a problem. It use to be that traffic lights were pretty naive just changing based on the time. Well new traffic lights have sensors built into the roads that detect when a car is present and adjust the lights accordingly. This works great if you are a car, since they can detect them and change accordingly. Doesn't work if you are a bike since you don't trigger any lights. And you can be stuck by a light if you are law abiding, well like speeding let's just say things happen.

Well some towns like Mountain View have taken great steps to place bicycle sensors so that when you ride over them, you trigger the light just like a car. Other cities like the neighboring one, which shall remain unnamed, but it's not reminiscent of the quaint sunny Vail of my Colorado youth, if you need a hint fail to install enough sensors.

It's amazing what that attention to detail can make such a difference between two adjacent places. For it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done in traffic when the traffic lights work with me.

Ok the stats:

Miles biked: 10, double bonus since I biked to swimming and work.
Miles mooched: 20, had to go to a swim club board meeting
Food consumed: still hungry, need to finish this blog entry and go to bed. but I hope chocolate counts as a vegetable, since I've had my five servings today.
Weight: 188 lbs, i'm losing weight but it's fluctuating all over the map,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Momentary Return to Cardom....Ignorance is bliss....

Today was a car infused day if any, no bike riding, no walking of meaningful distance, I once again returned to an automotive existence. My friend K is visiting from NYC and has rented a car while he is staying at my place. Since there is no way for him to jet around the S.F. South Bay area without a car and besides working from home today (which would make my transit 10 yards!), meant that I was shuttled around as we did hit the usual geek haunts, there really is not much to do down in Silicon Valley. Sad but true. The only thing better than having a car is to be chauffeured.

Miles Driven (not so much mooched): 30 - 40+

Scary observation, spending time as a passenger, you are free to observe how much more crazy people are as drivers then when you are actually driving. Ignorance is bliss....

Monday, August 28, 2006


OK, my time in Colorado has made me a little soft. Today going to and coming back from work, dare I say it, it was a little chilly. I may have to break out the cycling tights. I think this is a summer lapse, but it is foreshadowing that summer is coming to an end. :( I shouldn't complain, my friend R use to live in Minneapolis where he biked 12 miles to work in the WINTER. Surprisingly Minneapolis comes out as one of the most friendly bicycling cities despite their winters. So I SHALL not WHINE, ok, maybe not, I'll keep it to just a little bit.

On the Minneapolis Biking page maintained by the city they list the following benefits, some I've covered before.

Biking lets you incorporate low stress aerobic exercise into your daily commute.

Bicycles are the fastest transportation on wheels in urban settings. Compared to driving a car, urban bicycle trips of three miles or less can actually decrease your travel time.

Forget about parking headaches. Riding a bicycle lets you park much closer to your destination than a car. Bike racks are free. A year-long bike locker can be rented for less than a month's worth of parking an auto in a ramp.

Oh before I forget, the stats:

Miles Biked: 4
Miles Mooched: sort of 12, went out for lunch but without a car my colleague might have driven anyway.
Cars Test Driven So Far: 3
Hours spent on Craigslist looking at cars: too many....
Hours spent reading restaurant reviews: not enough

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Today was a crazy and sad day. I went up to San Francisco to participate in a total waste of time. Remind me to not donate to public television for the drivel they put on during pledge week. I volunteered and got some passes to this terrible real estate wealth seminar, I paid nothing for it and I still overpaid. Thankfully, I'm a member of SFMOMA and went across the street and took a docent led tour of the permanent collection and watched a portion of Matt Barney's "Drawing Restraint 9" which also included his partner Bjork. Salvaging a day in the city.

Today was my experiment with public transit, so let's stat it out.

Miles Biked: 10
Miles Trained: 80+
Travel legs: 3

I started off in the morning by riding to catch the train to head to San Francisco, being a local, the trip took me 1 hour 20 minutes. Given that I had all the time of the world it wasn't prohibitive, and the iPod was a godsend. It gave me some serious think time which will include some of the observations going into this lengthy post. Those who know me, know that I have completely fallen in love with the Moleskine brand of notebooks, pornographically expensive but worth it. I was able to study and memorize some observations of a story about Joan Didion, in the NYT.

In short, transit can be a time to think undisturbed. I love planes for the same reason. God forbid they ever let mobiles on flights. I recall using the time in Taipei on my way to class to study. Driving is dead time, you can't do anything but talk and drive. And when all is said and done, more is said than done.

The one thing I did feel constrained is that transit in America inflicts a schedule and a loss of freedom not inhabitated by most of America. My day was suppose to be free, and with a car I'd do what I would do. But because I was at the mercy of the time table, I had to be cognizant of time in a way that I am not usually. I even wore a watch today which saved me at a party to catching the train home before dark. The only exception is cities where transit is regular enough that I do not have to be conscious, I simply go to the station and wait for a reasonable amount of time. Cars remove time in a way that transit in most parts of America does not.

There are two types of people who transit in America, those who can afford it and those who cannot. For one it's a luxury for the other it is a lack of choice. Frightening at rush hour to see the two combine. It may be the only democratic place left in America where citizens are on equal footing. I think of Abby Joseph Cohen and Mayor Bloomberg riding the subway in NYC.

However, despite the power of those two, true wealth is granted to those who can shirk any notion of schedule to meet their whims.

After I got to San Francisco, I hopped on my bike and was able to jet around with impunity and not get killed. If you are looking for a great song in this vein, Amy Correia's "The Bike" is worth listening. She is a song writer. The downside is that you do get a little sweaty which is not appropriate for most gatherings. Of course I could just be too fat and out of shape. Relatively not so. Thing is that it could have taken me 20 minutes to walk or 5 minutes bike ride, the ability to make it from the train to my destination was key.

I later got back on the train to head down South to go to a friend S's going away party as she goes to save the world working on environmental policy. Again, without the bike getting from the train station to my friend T's house would have been unreasonable.

Transit is possible if we have the two figured out:

1) More frequency
2) More ways to get to places once you get to the main hub. We do this for cars to planes.

I was once told that the Paris Metro goal was that there was always a stop within 10 minutes walk.

We need more taxis and more buses to connect people. I would say that city transit should be free and possibly taxed across everyone whether they use it or not. People will still drive for the convenience, but we could raise the quality for everyone else and shift the load and make a difference. This is not well thought out. It has to be economics where we don't think of the cost of transit on a trip by trip basis.



Before I post, I usually like to look at the tenor of my past posts to set the tone for the next one. I've been talking about living a life with out a car and the struggles and blessings. I've also been interested in what Google's Ad placement algorithms (non sequiteur, my favorite constant incorrect use of words is the use of the word logarithm for algorithm. Now what is fantastic about this substitution is that the words are anagrams of each other. So perhaps the misusage isn't ignorance but the result of dyslexia, you decide). The most recent postings have been dealing with buying a car, which I have been investigating. But it misses the gist of the blog writ large. I miss the postings of cycling singles, which by terms of usage with Google AdWords I am not allowed to click, but would have on my own volition. Ironic again.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Should have walked...

Today was an interesting day transport wise, first the stats

Biked 20 miles
Mooched: 8 miles
Test Drove: 3 miles
Practiced: 6 - 8 miles.

I upgraded my bike to my road bike today and what a world of difference it made. It's definitely much more efficient to travel if more delicate. Not sure it's idea for city biking, but for getting around it's a breeze. Practiced on my friends stick shift more, weird thing was the more I drove the worse I got. I started over thinking the mechanics. Going to take some time.

I ended up test driving a Corolla Matrix, or just Matrix. Not a bad little wagon, but that would have made it that I will have had three Corolla's in my life. Maybe a little too much, besides I just ended a relationship with a woman who drove a Corolla, perhaps too much bad CARma.

I also ran a bunch of errands on my bike today, bank, Peets Coffee, not necessarily in that order of priority. I noticed that in urban biking, it's either students, hippies or the immigrants (my guess, my euphemism) riding on bikes in a day to day non exercise context. Everyone else is a car, and the rudest are those driving BMW X5s. A***OLES! Do they think they are exempt from signaling. Cars are a form of social status in our country, having one doesn't confer any advantage, but no having one definitely puts you at a disadvantage. Sort of like National Honor Society when applying to college, mostly irrelevant but relevant when you don't have it.

Later today, a friend of mine picked me up to go to the movie theater. and we headed over there was a traffic jam due to the concert happening in the vicinity hence missing the movie (planned to see Factotum). In the end we could have walked from my place and made it had we left right away. The problem with jams, is that you're stuck and cars just make you stuck even more.

Today have to figure out my City adventure if I am up for it.

Flexcar and Revolution

I was too tired to update last night, but here's the numbers from Friday 8/25

Miles Biked: 9 (work and to the drugstore)
Miles Mooched: 0

I'm starting to actively look for a car, what a pain. And I was thinking there must be a car share program in the Peninsula, or better Mountain View, I mean it's not hard to get to places within Mountain View, so if I could go to a carshare depot, I could definitely share a car (proving now I can get to work with no problem sans car). Looking at carshares, I found an alternative to City Car Share and Zip car and that is FlexCar, looking for franchise information I stumbled upon the fact that the controlling iinterest for FlexCar is Revolution LLC, or Steve Case (of AOL Fame) funding arm...

Steve Case got into AOL early, is car share the next frontier of explosive growth. Think about it, how often do you use your car and how much it just sits.

So if anyone here in Mountain View, CA wants to go in on a car for occasional driving. Leave comments.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Normalcy and Turnabout...

Miles Biked: 5
Miles Mooched: 6 (Went to Sushi with friend)
Bags of Chips at work: 2
Calories from Chips: 700+

Nothing exciting to report, I've got into a groove of riding my bike to work, it's less effort now. I seem to be getting into more shape riding wise. Fixed up my road bike so if really don't want to expend any energy, I'll have an option of relative speed and conserved energy. I'm happy to say that the past few days have confirmed that for moderate distances a biked life is possible. When I do need rides, such as tonight, I'm inverting the (T's) rule that you have to be a Cute Asian Woman to get rides to be able to live without a car, I was lucky enough to get a ride from a Cute Asian Woman with a car to dinner. Ahh turnabout is fair play.

Made phone calls to check out some new cars... the end of the experiment is coming near. Will I capitulate?!?!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I shop less...

Ok, before I get to my next realization...

Miles Biked: 8
Miles Mooched: Bagel, Goose Egg, ZE-RO
Pop tarts: 1 pack, 2 pieces
Chocolate: 1 bag Hershey Kissables

negative progress health wise. need to bring food to work to accomodate changing metabolism.

OK, here is today's big conclusion of not having a car. I shop less, not that I am a big shopper in the first place. But with a car, if I had some time, I'd run to an electronics store, (Fry's, Surplus Computers, Halted). Or a bookstore, Borders, or even god forbid do some clothes shopping or just stuff shopping.

All those are a pain to do now, so I shop less and as a result I'm spending less, and as a consequence I'm saving more (except I do eat in the cafeteria a little more). You may ask, do I shop online more? Answer: Not yet.

Do cars lead to consumer culture, perhaps. Retail therapy is a big thing, I've indulged in it. I admit it. Not having a car means I do wish I had a tv more. But that is another post (perhaps).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Paniers or Burley...

Today was a fairly typical day.

Miles Rode: 4 miles
Miles Mooched: 4 to get groceries, lots of cans and stuff.

So I've been discussing with friends the following, I could definitely live without a car in Mountain View if I figured out a way to go grocery shopping on a regular basis without a car. I've contemplated getting a Burley Nomad or maybe just some Paniers.

Still the issue of getting together with people outside of 4 miles. I'm planning on riding my bike to my friend's "Ta Ta For Now" party this Sunday, but this might be the final straw.

To Do: Repair flashing light for night riding.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The search begins...

Some random thoughts.

Today, didn't do any commuting via bicycle or other means. Took the day off from work, worked on one essay, shipped off one essay, waiting, waiting, waiting. The life of a writer wannabee. Went hiking with a friend, driven by friend, went to Mini dealership, ignored by Mini salesperson, went to Toyota, test drove a Prius (waiting list now only one month) and a Yaris. Fun little car, crappy automatic transmission when you slow down. Must be automatic. Test drove friends car, confirmed that yes, I can drive a stick shift.

Miles Walked: 6.2 non-transit, shouldn't count
Cars Test Driven: 2
Miles Mooched: 25 - 30
Calories eaten: Too many.

Finding a used car is proving harder than expected, the Yaris is the same car as in the quirky TV Show "Psych" that I just downloaded from iTunes (FREE), does seem to be a perfect car for my personality of being a slacker.

Strange observation, the Google AdWords on my page are rotating between ads for katrina relief and cycling singles. go figure.

Non-Sequiteur: Listened to a great podcast of the "Great Gatsby" on the Cornell website, it's their Freshman book. I should read it sometime.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A minority among minorities....

What a wild day, today I'll go a little off topic. Today was a complete social day and as a result I had to Mooch a ton of rides to achieve my social ends. Here are the stats:

Weight: 188 lbs (quit snickering, what were you thinking Kilograms, yeah right)
Miles Swam: 1 - 1.2 (depending on how much of a straight line I went in and how much the bouys moved on the course. Today, I participated in my annual open water swim relay, the Manatee 2 x 1 mile relay, quite a crazy race, 34 minutes is my guess until official results come out).

Miles Mooched:
- 40 miles to and from Quarry Lakes
- 80 miles to and from concert (Ozomatli)

Today, I went and danced to the sounds of Ozomatli, perhaps one of the best concerts I have ever been to, and definitely the best concert I have been to at Stern Grove. The place was rocking and a dancing, I think I may have burned as many calories dancing as I did swimming earlier during the day. It rocked that much. For an encore, Ozomatli went into the crowd and climbed onto a rock by the mixing board and closed the day with a percussion jam. The crowd was out of control, screaming in unison with the trombone singing the theme to "Sesame Street" and other rocking favorites. Imagine that scene from the second Matrix movie where Morpheus is motivating people, with flashbacks to one of the shittiest sex scenes in movie history, or maybe the Ewok celebration in Revenge of the Jedi. People swaying to a pulsing beat and being transported. I'm lucky I have a voice left.

Even more odd, was that the cute blond (To Anyone who make pick up the next reference, there was no intent to add to my Queue, my queue is quite well serviced) next to me said "Salud" to me when I sneezed, and I remarked to her that someone said the same thing to me earlier when I sneezed while walking, and was that her? She replied, yes it means health in Spanish. I said did you know that in Chinese when someone sneezes you say, and she cut me off by saying "yi bai sui" and I was floored. (It means one hundred years, as to live to a hundred years, or combining with the Spanish theme, perhaps a hundred years of solitude?) and I said what do you know how to respond to a sneeze in every language, to which replied "Wo Xue De Han Yu" which means I studied Chinese. She happened to live in Beijing for a few years. And we chatted about our China experiences. And how the Chinese had a hard time interpreting the transliteration of her name "Nina" which could be interpreted in many ways, some rather pedestrian. Random. She ended up translating some lyrics that were in Spanish. Very sharp person. It's been nagging me, but I think I have met her before.

We later went to Nopa, a pretty decent restaurant in the Western Edition, where my car(e)less existence continued to be a topic of discussion. Very few people live without cars, and among those, the vast majority are cute asian women. so I am a minority within a minority. I will not be able to rely on a lot of guy friends to drive me around, so time to talk about cars. People all have opinions about which car to buy, it is actually a safer bet than sports to get a discussion going, since contrary to conventional wisdom, women can talk about cars just as much as men can. They have as many opinions, if different ones about what a car should be.

My social life is predicated on having a car...sad but true. Probably outside of NYC there is no other option. Oakland is looking more real.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I park faster....

After learning to drive a manual transmission, my day was filled with the usual weekend duties. Catching up with friends, a little shopping laundry. I would try to go out this evening, but I have my annual 2 x 1 relay Mile Swim. A four year tradition that is most likely coming to an end, when my friend Phil moves to Germany. But I wish him luck, and he is my ride to the event.

Today I met a friend in Downtown Mountain View, since I had to run some errands at the library. And despite being a few minutes late I got a call from him saying that he was finding parking. I had already locked my bike and was waiting. Now I know bicycle parking can be a challenge as well, I remember that from my time in Beijing in 1999. But it is nice to be able to be nimble about such things.

Biked: 5 miles
Walked: 0.75 to pick up groceries for tomorrow's Stern Grove.

Current Canidates for Cars:

Audi A4 Wagon
Toyota Celica GT
Volvo Station Wagon
Honda Civic
Saab 900 Classic, not the new body style
MINI Cooper S
VW Passat
VW Jetta

or drum roll please, Quit my job and move to San Francisco and Oakland and find a job where I don't have to drive.

Manual Options.

Today my landlord Matt taught me how to drive a manual transmission using his car, a Honda Civic hatchback. We spent about an hour driving around a parking lot, and then I drove from the parking lot to the apartment and made it ok. I got the trick that the release of the clutch has to be very gradual right when the catch is engaged. After that, everything becomes smoother. Very Very cool to learn how to drive a stick shift, opening a lot of opportunities for different cars.

It was not nearly as hard I as thought it would be. So now time to go drive some cars and see what I want!!!

Metabolism in Flux...

An odd consequence of riding the few miles that I have, has been that I seem to be tired more in the morning. There is no way to get my legs, especially my calves or gastrocenemeus from suffering more clinically myalgias (don't ask, it's just means muscle soreness but is a fun word to say next to schwarma). I don't know if this is a side effect that my job is incredibly dull and sendetary, or something else medically. One of those things in life that is making me go "hmmmmm...."

Today was a pretty typical day:

Rode my bike to and from work: 4 miles
Went to a group dinner in San Jose, Miles mooched: 26
Observations: it's getting chilly

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Everyone has an Opinion...

Today the stats are as follows:

1) Rode 4 miles, a little warm in the morning, a little cold in the afternoon, surprised I was a little sweaty coming home.
2) Mooched two separate rides to and from the mini golf course to attend a swimming social event. Lots of fun. Miniature Golf is a lot harder than it seems. The felt is faster than a normal green. Getting rides is a good way to meet people.

Well is it becoming clear that a carfree existence is not a carefree one, the amount of planning does add another dimension to your life. Granted, I'm able to get healthier and meeting new people. But here in Silicon Valley, it is not an independent lifestyle. Mass transit just doesn't cut it here. Sadly there are no reasonable alternatives such as car share. So I've been asking around for what car should I buy, key is fun but practical. Everyone I ask has an opinion, but no one is recommending a practical car. My favorite recommendation was "buy my husband's car" to which he responded "Then I'll have to buy a new car" and the wife responded "exactly"

I still haven't narrowed down what I want to buy...decisions indecisions.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Daily Update and Dead Space...

Continuing on this morning's post about having to plan ahead. Today I walked to work, taking 30 minutes to get to work. I did this instead of riding a bike since I knew I would be going somewhere after work. I had to mooch a ride to the event, at the Sports Basement and mooch another to get home.

walked: 2 miles
mooch: 2 rides Total 6 miles
weight: 190 lbs (making very little progress)

In addition to realizing how much space is dedicated to cars, I realize that if you look at the amount of space from google maps aerial view you realize that there is a lot of dead space in our lives, and all of that is due to cars. What I mean by dead space is any place that is only utilized for part of the day, or a small fraction. This includes our homes, our businesses and or commercial districts. Much of the vibrancy of the city comes from that space is intermingled, people living above and across from shops. Multiple people occupying the same space. It feels alive, the 'burbs feel empty and soulless because no one is every around long enough to let a soul rest. Walking down desolate paths where people are zooming from place to place. Where do we land to let our souls catch up. William Gibson in the book Pattern Recognition talks about "soul delay" and you don't need jet lag to experience that.

A Man With No Plan, or at least planning

OK, it's 7:04 AM and the fact that I am writing a blog entry instead of in the locker room getting ready for a swim is a consequence of carlessness that I did not account for, and that's planning. A car for short distances lets you get away with doing things at the last minute, now that I have to allocate time for the simplest errands. In short, I have to plan and I'm really bad at that, after all I am a Myers-Briggs "P" person.

Mornings are not my thing, and early mornings doubly so. If I am to wake up early to ride my bike to the pool, that means unfortunately, I have to go to bed early. This is not my wont, since I usually stay up until midnight or later reading and thinking. This means there is very little chance I will wake up early enough to go swimming. At least early enough to get on my bike and make it to practice in time. The last week and half have borne this out, 5 practices held, 1 attended.

And I think this is what cars have done to our lives, is they have tightened our life's supply chain allowing us to do things more spontaneously. Where in the old days, you would do everything in one shot, imagine living on the prairie, you would announce "I'm going to town, do you need anything?" Now we just go to town whenever we want or need to.

Not having a car has definitely made me more conscious of space, but surprisingly it's making me more conscious of time too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Today on NPR living Car Free in LA. Really..

In an email to my friends about an OpEd piece in the New York Times about "Beyond Propaganda" by someone who worked on the British Petroleum "Beyond Petroleum" ad campaign ( I wrote the following.

Car(e)free in California hits its tenth day with limited success. It is definitely doable, but what I find living without a car collapses your world in size, in much the same way that the jet plane has expanded my world. You find fewer restaurants available for dining (I need to be able to walk to or bike ride to), meeting with people is constrained by geography. The other thing I have noted is that our world is definitely designed and structured with the car in mind. You find this when looking for bike parking, to traffic lights (in some places you have to ignore traffic signals if you ever going to get a light going your way).

Also on NPR today Morning Edition was a story on living Car Free in LA (

How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life
by Chris Balish (

It also includes a section on Car Free Dating, which as I've been going on a few dates with someone in Oakland is proving challenging since there is no direct Peninsula to East Bay path. It's a good thing she use to be an Urban Planner and has great sympathy. Sadly there is no Car Share option either.

9 days and counting.....

Dang I'm having a hard time sleeping...Must of have been the mountain of food I ate earlier.

Anyway, before I go reread some Didion or Murakami before I go to bed. It's 9 days and counting since I've had a car of my own. Some tallies:

Weight before 190 lbs, weight still, this theory is not working.

- Bicycled 50 miles between work, home and swimming and random errands.
- Relied on the kindness of friends 4 main times to get around. One of those was a drive down to Santa Cruz where the chauffeur and the car were simply scorching. I could get spoiled. But I can't expect this to last. I am trying the patience of my friends.
- Riding a bike with a backpack causes you to sweat more than if you don't
- No public transport, surprised, so am I? Schedule and network just aren't there for my life.
- Since I didn't go to the grocery store often enough, ate out a lot.
- Walked 6 miles in the week, beyond normal day to day walking
- No city car share in the 'burbs. Purchase of car must be accelerated.
- Oscillating between nice old car, or newer practical car or just getting an old convertible.
- Rented a car to go to Tahoe, surprised I still know how to drive. Really cool feature, yes you can read your speed in Km/hr

Net Net, beyond 5 miles I need strangers, a cab, a friend or a car.

Friend noted, that the only friends who've been able to get away car(e)less on the Peninsula have been cute women, I fall into neither category. Off to craigslist to find a car.

Week two in progress....

Saturday, August 05, 2006

An Inconvenient Accident.

Well it's finally happened, the Altima is Dead, Long Live the Altima!

The very first car I ever bought on my own, the very first new car I ever owned is now dead (129,666K miles, 11 years, RIP). On Friday August 4, 2006 I had an accident that rendered the car a total loss. But thankfully everyone was ok in all cars involved, and let that be a reminder that that is the most important thing after a car accident. Not blame but is everyone ok. Wish my 'rents got that concept. But this is not a self-confessional blog, I have other ones for that.

Instead this will be a chronicle of the days that I am living without my own car in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco bay area. Fortunately, I live close enough to my work (2 miles) that I will be able to get around on my bike and close enough to downtown. But the question to ask is what is this going to do to my life? my realm of possibilties? Things that we take for granted with an car.

So how do I get around?
How often have I had to mooch a ride?
What's my weight?
What's my Mass Transit Cost?
What have I had to miss from my pre-Car days.
What have I had to accommodate?

So join me as I track what's going on in my life sans automobile.