Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stuff and Nonsense

In which we go over a few items and updates

Vinapedia is Live
The beta version Vinapedia, my website about wine designed with the beginning wine enthusiast in mind, is finally live. Though still pretty bare-bones, it was nevertheless a long, hard slog to create those 55 pages of content. Whew! The first phase is over. Coming soon will be a blog, a forum and maybe even a wiki. Stay tuned.

Jane Doe Returns
Annie, darling -- you'll be happy to note that Jane Doe, my neighborhood deer, has been returning to my ivy patch and happily munching there, sometimes in the night, sometimes in the early morning. She's got Bambi's eyelashes.

Traveled to Washington D.C. with pops in April, but I haven't had a chance to write about it because of the Vinapedia project. Sit tight. I'll blog the capitol soon. There's lots to tell. This weekend I'm in the other Washington, Washington State. I'll be in Seattle for a conference. I've only been there once, a few years ago, and I'm looking forward to me second visit -- and finally getting to see the Space Needle!

Never a Cop Around When You Need One
Last week I went to the mom-n-pop bike shop near my office to have my back wheel trued. The owner is an elderly gentleman with a pronounced limp. He's helped me a couple times, hefting my bike up onto the stand with a grunt that makes me feel awful for not helping. (Granted, if I tried to help he'd probably punch me.)

But the other day when I went in he was nowhere to be seen at first, though his chubby little dog came out from the office for a belly rub. Instead, one of the young fellows who works there helped out. After a while, the owner appeared, limping, as usual, but also with the most magnificent shiner I've ever seen. The right side of his face was red and black and blue from forehead to jawbone.

I asked who'd given him a black eye and how the other fella had faired. He said, "Well, when a bike goes up against a car, the bike's gonna lose." He'd been riding into the post office parking lot, down the street from my office, when BAM! Lights out… for four days. He woke up in the hospital after four days in a coma, with no recollection of what had happened, and significant memory loss to boot. The driver, to his credit, did stop and phone emergency services, though has not as of this writing admitted fault. (I can't imagine this elder gentleman performing too outrageous a maneuver on rusty old ten-speed.)

Week before last, while riding my bike to work I got pulled over by one of Burbank's finest for blowing a stop sign on a quiet, residential street. It was early, probably 6:45 a.m., and I was on my way to the gym at my office. I go this route daily.

The roller chirped me to get my attention and I pulled over. He got out, and with a tough-guy tooth pick in the corner of his mouth, asked for my ID and where I was going. I cooperated politely. Then he proceeded to lecture me on the law, stating that I had "not even looked" when went through the stop sign. (Actually I had, and could see that the coast was clear 50 yards in both directions, but I don't argue with people packing heat.) He noted also that I had been riding with no hands, which was an offense and "unsafe at any speed." Thanks, Ralph Nader. He reminded me that bikes must obey all the same traffic laws as cars. (By which I assume he meant that all people on bikes must obey the same laws as people in cars.) He acted like I'd just held up a liquor store or something.

Now, I did break the law and the cop was fully within his rights to give me a ticket (which, by the way, he didn't). But here are my beefs. First off, the law may say that cyclists have to obey all the laws as motorists. But that isn't true, is it? If a motorist parks his car on the sidewalk and locks it to a parking meter, he's breaking the law. But if acyclists does the same with his bike, he's just staying out of the way. There are many other examples I could go into. Second, Burbank is a big city on the edge of the even bigger, crime-ridden cesspool of a city called Los Angeles. What the hell is a cop doing picking on a cyclist who's doing his part for crown and country by not burning foreign fossil fuels, which fund Islamic terrorists and the governments who support them, or adding to air pollution?

My third and biggest beef is where were the cops when the owner of my cycle shop was run over and nearly killed? Where were the cops the other day when I was nearly lambasted by some cell-phone wielding asshole in an Escalade at the corner of Magnolia and Vineland? Come to think of it, there's never been a cop around when I've needed one.

Where were the cops when I was cold-cocked on a San Francisco city bus? When I was rear-ended by a hit and run driver, who got away, on Christmas day? When I witnessed an armed robbery? When I saw a man get hit over the head with a cock bottle that shattered, filling his wound with ground glass?

Never once has a policeman been there to protect and serve, only to harass. I know the cops can't be everywhere. That's too much to ask. But for crying out loud, cyclists in this town have enough to worry about just getting home in one piece without being harassed willy-nilly.
And the cops wonder why the citizenry is suspicious of them.


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