Sunday, October 28, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 5 & 6: ashland, oregon

Just got home from a week in Ashland, Oregon, seeing the final week of plays in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2018 season with family and friends. Knowing that there'd be a lot of sitting around, Idecided to take the folding bike and run it through some longer paces.

In order to accommodate the show schedule (6 plays in 5 days), I opted to do # 5 early in the week, a stretch of the rules but still well within the spirit of coffeeneuring.

Ride # 5: Case Coffee, Ashland.

This began with a ride around downtown Ashland to see the lay of the land by bicycle. The folder worked beautifully and once I dialed in the saddle height I was very comfortable.
First stop: Brothers Restaurant, where I was treated indifferently by a distracted waiter and served a small coffee for three bucks that turned out to be lukewarm and weak.
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I didn't sip it until I'd gotten back to my bike, so by then I decided not to make a stink. But I knew I had to find something better or I'd be sad all afternoon.

So I saddled up and rode out onto Siskyou Boulevard, out to the far end of Southern Oregon University, where I saw a cafe called Case. I decided to toss my coffee and try again.
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I was pleasantly surprised. The coffee was fresh, hot and had an interesting almost floral finish that worked well with cream and sugar.
I would return to Case three more times during my stay in Ashland, because the coffee was simply and reliably awesome every time. I learned that there are two locations: "Upper" Case on Siskyou (whee they roast their beans) and "Lower" Case on Lithia Way (a smaller, more intimate location)  near our hotel. Both had great coffee and a nice selection of pastries.

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The ride there and back was lovely and allowed me to see more of Ashland than just the downtown quarter neat the OSF theatres. I'll certainly visit Case again next time I'm down there.
Total: 5 miles

Ride # 6: Pony Espresso, Ashland.

This began with word first thing in the morning about the synagogue murders in Pittsburgh, PA. Sweetie and I were devastated but knew the place to go was the shul where we'd planned to attend services anyway. I decided to take the bike so I could have a slightly longer a ride out into the country to Temple Emek Shalom. The community was warmly welcoming and glad to have us join them, and praying with them was a balm for my head and heart. I promised that I'd return when my travels brought me back to Ashland.

After services, I took a scenic route back to town along the Bear Creek Path and wound up at Pony Espresso Cafe, where I stopped for a fresh cup of Columbian and a piece of lemon pound cake I'd brought along from the Oneg Shabbat table at the shul. Nice combination. And a longer ride on a gorgeous day that was sunny and unseasonably warm, with a high of almost 70F.
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Total: about 7 miles.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 4: taco bell. (i know, i know.)

I left the house around 12:30 and rode to three different places that all turned out to be closed on Sundays. The fourth place had a line out the door. In the end, I decided to go to Peet's, where I thought I had a little something left on my card. But on the way there, I was confronted with yet another block of tents parked along a sidewalk.

My heart sank.

Shit, I thought. Will this ever get better? And what can I do about it if the people with the power and wealth won't do anything?
An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 men, women and children go to sleep outside every night in Portland, due to a crippling combination of things that all point to the one big thing: poverty.

When you're dirt poor in a city, you can't always access medical or social services. The cost of transit fare may be enough to halt you in your tracks. Rents are rising much faster than wages. There is a severe lack of affordable housing that the city and development interests are simply not acting to remedy.

So we have a ton of people forced to sleep outside.
And their numbers are growing.

Distraught at the sight of another row of tents, I lost all interest in coffee. But I hadn't eaten anything since around 7am and it was going on 2:30. I had to eat something in order to take my meds, so I went to the closest place I could find: A Taco Bell.

Yeah, I know. It really is all that bad.
I ordered a veggie burrito and some cinnamon twists, and ate them with my own bottle of water while I watched the people around me.

Inside and outside the restaurant, people who looked like they hadn't bathed or eaten in days clustered around benches, fell asleep at an inside table, or nibbled the edge of a paper cup that had held liquid hours ago.

My "lunch," such as it was, cost less than three bucks. Fast food is cheap and that's why poor people eat lots of it.

Not sure whether or not I'll continue the coffeeneuring challenge. Today, like so many other things I do in my day to day living, it feels sort of pointless. I'll see how things go tomorrow.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 3; arbor lodge coffee

Saturday came and went. After helping to lead services at my shul, I picked up my new glasses at the optometrist, came home and crashed for a long Shabbes nap. I woke up at 4, realized I hadn't ridden all day, and decided to take an evening ride. The sun was low in the sky and would set soon, but there was still plenty of light as I made my way to The Arbor Lodge Coffee. I got there half an hour before closing and was treated to a free cup at the end of the pot of coffee, and a day-old snickerdoodle for twenty-five cents.
I also bought a patch. The price was right (three bucks) and I liked the design. I'll make some space for it on one of my bike bags.

I continued on to Overlook and turned south onto Willamette Boulevard, enjoying the cooling air and the dramatic drop of the sun behind the west hills.

I was also really enjoying the Dahon folding bike, which I plan to take with me to Ashland next week so I can get some riding in between plays at the Shakespeare Festival.

I'd attached a Bushwhacker "Shasta" handlebar pouch to hold my coffee cup, at the suggestion of a reader of this blog (thanks!). It's not perfect -- it hangs at a slight angle because the straps are not positioned exactly to fit the folding bike setup -- and has no extra pockets the way the fancy, locally-sewn ones do; but for ten bucks it fits the bill nicely without getting in the way of pedaling, and it's far more affordable than the locally-made models that start at $50.

Autumn here has been warm and dry, so the leaves have taken their time in turning and falling. But there are enough leaves on the ground now that I think we're on the downward slope of the season. Rain is forecast for the end of next week and after that most of the rest of the leaves will make their way to the ground. I've been enjoying the rich colors on my rides

Sunset at Overlook (with the Willamette River and industrial complex below, and the West Hills in the distance; and moonrise as seen from N. Rosa Parks Way.
Total: around six miles. It was still just barely light enough when I got home that I quickly mowed the lawn before the light faded. One less thing to do tomorrow, and more time to ride.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenge # 2: world cup coffee & tea

Today's adventure dawned clear and cool. The ride into town was delicious, cold enough to need a sweater, wool cap and full-finger gloves but not freezing. And whenever I rode in the sun my back ws pleasantly warmed.
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I rode into northwest Portland and up to World Cup Coffee & Tea, where I ordered a cup of the dark roast and a bagel. I had invited other Portland coffeeneurs to join me, but none did. It gave me an opportunity to people-watch and enjoy the changing colors of fall.

I also introduced myself to the new manager, gave him my card and told him of my musical history with the cafe. I suggested we talk about me coming in and playing live music some Sunday morning. He was interested and said he'd be in touch.
Before I left, I got a ginger cookie that was absolutely delicious.
So if you go there, get the ginger cookie.

Friday, October 12, 2018

2018 coffeeneuring challenige #1: Starbucks, NE MLK & Ainsworth

I went with the tried and true today, a warmup for Coffeeneuring and a longer test ride of my new (to me) folding bike. Scored well on both counts.

I know some people are down on Starbucks, but sometimes when you need decent coffee and there's nothing else nearby, you know what you'll get there. Because if nothing else, Starbucks is consistent, and consistently far better than Dunkin' Donuts.

I also wanted to try out a longer ride on the new folding bike that I got last month and which I've been steadily upgrading and tweaking to make it better.

A minor saddle adjustment along the way was all I needed to make this a pretty happy ride.

I still can't stand the folding pedals, but I'm not ready to pop fifty bucks for something fancy.
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 The cup I've taken with me on almost every Coffeeneuring ride since I found it seven years ago, from Klean Kanteen, is still going strong and still keeping my coffee hot (or cold, as was the case with today's frappacino). I found this lying on the sidewalk on the Broadway Bridge. The brown paint has chipped off even more and at some point it will all be gone. A great thermal cup and worth every penny, even if I had bought it. Which I didn't in this case.
Tomorrow, the Portland-area social kickoff of the Challenge, a meetup in the morning at World Cup Coffee & Tea on NW Glisan. Cheers!
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Thursday, October 11, 2018

UPDATE: the dahon folder, version 3.0

After installing the B'Stone "half moon" handlebar, I still wasn't happy with the Dahon I'd recently acquired. It was geared too high; the rapid-rise derailleur was fussy and giving me fits; and the plastic pedals were flimsy and uncomfortable. So I resolved to take one more crack at making this bike make sense for me before giving up on it.

1. I ordered a new crankset with a smaller chainring. The loose-bearing bottom bracket came with a spindle that was a touch too short for the new cranks, and the raced bearings were just awful. I overhauled it with loose bearings and a slightly longer spindle from the parts box. Switching from 52t to 48t was a revelation. Also, the cheesy, plastic anti-chain-jump device was no longer needed with chain guards on both sides of the chainring, so I yanked it from the seat tube altogether.

2. I scored some all-metal folding pedals really cheap on eBay. They are sturdier, but no more comfortable than the plastic ones they replaced. I'm not ready to spend $50 on fancy pedals so I'll live with these for awhile.

3. I fine-tuned the stock derailleur, after realizing that installing anything else simply would not work on this frame. I'd have to live with rapid-rise and make it better if I could. The biggest hassle was the placement of the limit screws (really, Dahon? whose bright idea was it to put them where no tool could easily reach without first loosening the derailleur from the hanger hole? Stupid, stupid). Once I sorted it all out, I adjusted it and made it as good as I possibly could.  A smaller chainring up front helped make the gears shift more smoothly as well.

4. A small saddlebag to carry everything while still fitting with a folding bike was the last touch.

The only challenge remains how to carry a water bottle on this bike. There are two eyelets on the main tube but the cage would be positioned horizontally; and where would the cage go if I want to fold the bike? I'm looking for a clip-on bottle cage that will fit the handlebar securely until I'm ready to take it off for folding. (Suggestions welcome.)

The test ride around the block was pretty nice -- better hand position, easier and smoother pedaling, and overall better fit have convinced me that this has a place in my stable, and I'm going to keep it.
Some more minor tweaking is probably still in order, and maybe a different saddle; but basically it's all there.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

now that we know our government is officially corrupt, how do we act?

So let's talk about Mass DIsobedience for a moment.
What does this look like? What does this mean?

A proposal:
-- use social media to and to reach out to like-minded folks and to BEGIN conversations.
-- once connections are established, continue these conversations OFF social media, face to face, on the local level. This is important, because we need to get to know and trust each other and we need to be able to talk and plan away from the prying eyes of five zillion social media consumers (and the government).
-- once local groups are organized, decide what your brand of civil disobedience will look like: protests at City Hall? Helping build bigger and safer homeless encampments? Driving to the state capitol and having a die-in? Chaining yourselves to the doors of a government building?
-- consider the likelihood of mass arrests for these actions.
-- how will those arrested deal with going to jail? The legal entanglements that come after that? Child care while incarcerated?
-- parents of young children may want to consider providing additional childcare for others; or, if they feel called to be on the front lines, they might want to arrange for a safe place (relative/community/etc) to send their kids to, ideally far from the government's reach if possible.
-- Does anyone envision a general strike? It's no longer enough to simply stop coming to work, as there are many, many very poor people who will gladly take your low-wage service job in order to stay housed. A general strike at this point will likely need to include blocking access to the means of production, whether it's an Amazon warehouse, a hotel, an airport baggage facility or an Amtrak depot. Consider what kind of numbers your effort will require and recruit for that.
-- Be willing to acknowledge your white privilege in the presence of black and brown people. Since you cannot deny it, USE it to subvert the dominant paradigm wherever and whenever possible. For some that will mean speaking up when you see a person of color being attacked/harassed. For others it may mean finding more underground ways (both legal and illegal) to use your privilege to benefit others without that privilege (you're smart, figure it out).

Finally, recognize that if you're serious about civil disobedience in 2018, it will mean that your actions can be interpreted as being illegal and punishable by a corrupt government. The law will not necessarily be on your side. So perhaps be prepared to be treated like a criminal even when you know you're not one. And lay the groundwork to protect your loved ones in the event that this happens.
I'm not advocating any particular action over another, or over a lack of action. I'm just laying out some of the many possibilities of what disobedient actors may be up against. Use common sense and consider your options. And then, act in whatever way makes the most sense.
Be careful out there, and look out for each other.