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Posts from the ‘rant’ Category

preparatory measures

grocery run (#330daysofbiking Day 255)

 

Tomorrow has been declared an official Snow Day – school has been cancelled, the store shelves are being ravaged of all bread, milk, lunchmeat, canned soup and peanut butter.  And yes, not a single flake of snow has yet to fall from the sky.

The local news is full of advice on “emergency preparedness” and weather alerts of impending doom  (i.e., 2-5 inches of snowfall possible).  Oh brother.

It just happened that I needed to make a normal grocery run today.  So much for timing.  We did manage to get our “emergency rations” (lol), and had a very nice ride – despite a few sidelong glances from the weather-panic-stricken.

Mostly, I am oh-so-curious to see if the snow forecast pans out….  I hope it does; my X-country skis have been begging to be pulled out of the attic, and I wouldn’t mind a repeat of snowbiking. 🙂  Keep your fingers crossed!

heading home, fully stocked

we like to wear silly hats

trying to imagine the landscape with some snow (???)

I'm not the only Nutcase around here ...

someone stole our bikes (kind of) …

Rest assured – the bikes were not stolen.  Just their image…  I will explain.

I have hesitated to even post this, because I mostly feel that it’s not what I’m about, not what I want this blog to be about.  But I also feel quite strongly about right and wrong, ownership and theft, lessons learned, and I think there is an important message to be conveyed.

(Not to mention I also owe Casey, Jenn and Stan some beer and pizza over this one. 😉

Imagine my surprise when one of my twitter friends, Casey – a great guy, biochemistry PhD candidate, and fellow Xtracycle owner out in Montana(!) – sent me a note saying he was pretty sure he had seen a photo of my bikes in a local magazine, Outside Bozeman.  Yeah – as in Bozeman, MT.  And really, what are the odds of that – on every level?!

naughty, naughty Outside Bozeman...

So I managed to get a copy of the magazine, just to see if he was correct.  And sure enough, there they were – my photo of our bikes that I had taken almost three years ago out in our front yard. In Tennessee.

They had apparently pilfered the photo off of either my old blog, or from my Flickr set – both of which expressly state “License: © All Rights Reserved by (me)”.  They never asked for permission, they offered no attribution.

So, what to think?  Part of me was a bit conflicted.  If it encouraged anyone to start riding a bike, or even purchase an Xtracycle, I felt like this was a good thing and served a good purpose – and really, it’s one of the main reasons I like to share my love of bikes and biking through photography and blogging.  And yes, it was exciting (to some degree) to see one of my photos in print.

But I also feel very strongly about copyright, ownership, asking for permission to borrow or use or modify, having heard several stories of other peoples’ photos being “stolen” for profit-making endeavors (made into postcards, store flyers, etc.).

Wrong is wrong.  And in the end, after discussing with several people in-the-know, I decided it was important to let this magazine know that I didn’t find their actions appropriate or ethical.  I wrote a letter, and I sent them a “republication” invoice for the use of my photo.   And waited.

Two days ago, I received a small and brief hand-written note of apology along with a check for what they claim was “twice their usual rate” – basically about enough for beer and pizza, but more importantly, evidence that they had gotten the message.  And hopefully won’t resort to doing this kind of thing again.  (Or so I like to tell myself.)

When all is said and done (and photographed and posted and published), I want to be clear about a couple of things … First, I am more grateful than any of you will ever know for the kind and positive comments I get on my photos that appear on this site, on my Flickr, and on ShutterCal.  And while I strongly respect ownership – of all art forms, from photography to music to any other medium – I am typically honored to share, to offer the use of my images to those who are considerate and ask.  Please know this, and please feel free to ask. (As long as you don’t intend to print postcards to sell…).

Over the past months it has been an privilege to collaborate and share photos with people like Rick from Xtracycle, Darryl at LovingTheBike, and even recently with an online poetry journal, POOL, put together by another amazing friend and photographer in her own right.  A couple of my friends have wanted prints of certain shots, and I am so very flattered to offer them.   Every one of them has honored me by asking, been more than generous with attribution, and provided me with a wonderful opportunity to share what I love.  Because in the end, photography is meant to be seen; and if the bicycles I love are in the mix, even better.

So – Casey, Jenn and Stan … I will buy the beer and pizza, but I have decided to send the proceeds of this little experience to the Dan Austin and the great people at 88bikes – because it just feels like the right thing to do in the end.  Someday, possibly,  I will be able to put my camera to work for an endeavor like theirs….

from Outside Bozeman ... to 88bikes.org



#30daysofbiking Day 24: signs

Reflections Of A Bicycle (it's very philosophical)

Day of rain.  Strong storms rolling through the region – everything from rain to hail to high winds, and even some tornados (although fortunately not here).

We had a few light showers in the morning, but during a break in the action, Mark and I went out for a ride – hoping to get out and back before things got too nasty.  We couldn’t have timed it more perfectly.  The clouds were rolling, and the wind was picking up, but we managed to have a dry ride – a few drops of rain only at the very end, near home.  I think I was making Mark pretty nervous – my typical stopping to take photos, while he kept eyeing the threatening skies.

all "signs" pointed home - get back before the bad stuff comes

My latest “beef” happens to be about some recent roadwork done by the folks at TDOT.  About a week ago, some large and very noisy machinery showed up on our road.  They ended up carving rumble strips/troughs/markings along the edges of our road – a narrow two-lane road that has barely any shoulder to begin with.  I’m not sure why and when this decision was made – although being down in a valley, we tend to see a fair amount of early morning fog, and visibility on the road can be pretty bad at times.

Maybe it has made things safer for automobiles, but it has made my riding life a bit more of a brain-rattling headache.  Now it is nearly impossible to move over onto (or even slightly beyond) the white line, without shaking the teeth out of my head and causing some control issues with my bike.  It’s incredibly jolting – much more so than I ever would have expected.  So now I’m pretty much forced to take the lane to avoid the rumble strip – which extends into the lane fairly significantly in several sections.  I’m sure TDOT wasn’t ever considering cyclists in making the decision; a definite sign of priorities (and our not-so bicycle/pedestrian-friendly local culture).

bicycling brain-rattle rumble strip, courtesy of TDOT

Right now as I sit here, the wind is blowing pretty viciously, and I hear the rumbling of thunder in the distance.  A sure sign that I should probably sign off and turn off my computer before the power goes out.  Looking for some sun tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

An addendum to the rumble-strip mention … twitter friend @brennen forwarded this article to me, about the increasing numbers of rumble strips being installed on roads around the country (thanks to stimulus dollars), and the significant hazards they are posing to cyclists.  It appears LAB along with several other advocacy groups are attempting to have changes made to (shoulder allowances, pass-throughs, etc.) to make it safer for cyclists.  Very good article: http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archives/2010/4/28/4514086.html


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#30daysofbiking Day23: river ride & Earth Day rant ~ Olin’s toxic fish

courtesy of Olin Chlor-Alkali, Charleston, TN - a reminder of what has NOT changed since Earth Day 1970

oblivious to the warnings, Brady, age 5: fishing for (toxic) bass with his Nana and Pa

Today is Earth Day.  Forgive me if I don’t feel like celebrating.  I might sound a little snarky, but I find too much of the current Earth Day celebrating to be nothing but a bunch of marketing hype, Earth Day-branded discounts, and various corporate greenwashing tactics – all aimed at wasteful consumerism.  “Go GREEN – buy this (useless-crap-you-don’t-need-that-will-end-up-in-the-landfill) and enter EARTH at checkout to receive your 15% Earth Day discount!” Throw in a few token speeches, a ceremonial planting of a tree, an elementary school poster contest, and you’ve got Earth Day 2010.

As the great Walter Cronkite reported on his CBS news special “Earth Day 1970’’, on April 22, 1970,  “The hoopla of (the first) Earth Day is over. The problems remain.’’

And so they do.

Today’s ride was to points along “our river” – the Hiwassee River that runs near our house.  The river that now, thanks to the wonderful folks at Olin Chlor-Alkali corporation, is so contaminated with their mercury discharge that the few remaining fish that survive outside of the “dead zones”, namely bass,  have been found to contain mercury levels 25% above EPA limits. The last documented EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) indicated mercury discharge rates in tons – both airborne and “discharge to receiving streams and/or water bodies”.   The warning signs are posted at nearly every put-in and boat dock, yet I am continually stunned to see people fishing here – and keeping their catch.  Today was no exception.

Donnie and Vicky; this bass wasn't big enough to keep ... otherwise they keep and consume their catch, despite posted warnings

I stopped at the put-in closest to our house when I saw some people down fishing.  Decided to be brave and talk with them, to see if they would let me photograph them.  After their initial wariness, they were very friendly and obliging.  I asked them if they kept their catch – and they said they did.  I also asked if they were concerned at all about the posted warnings, or knew about the mercury issue.  I got an answer I had heard before, “Oh, we’ve been fishing here for a long time … ain’t never had any problems with it.”

further upriver, but just downstream from the Olin plant

further upriver

catching bass - upriver near the marina/boat ramp

catching bass - near the marina/boat dock just downstream from Olin

I stopped again near the boat ramp/marina – a location closer to the Olin plant and their discharge sites.  I’d been on the water just upstream from here near the plant (by boat) and you can visually see – in the water – a line of demarcation where there are “dead zones” from the pollutants.  Two gentlemen were out on the small dock fishing.  And catching a few bass.  I stopped and talked to them too.  They told me they kept what they caught, as well – “They’s some good eatin’!”  When I asked if they were concerned at all about the mercury discharge from Olin, one of them told me that he knew someone who worked there, and he knew it was “real bad” – but figured if the fish were out swimming, they were probably ok.

In both cases, I just didn’t know what to say?  “Are you out of your minds?!”  I couldn’t say anything, but just thanked them for letting me photograph.

Brady's dad ... taking his son out for an afternoon of (toxic) bass fishing

On my way back was probably the most disturbing encounter I had today.  It’s were I spotted the little boy, Brady (5 yrs old), out fishing with his dad near the bridge.  Again, I stopped, talked to them and asked if they would mind if I took a few pictures.  Sure, no problem.  This time, I only asked if they kept their catch.  They said yes.  It honestly nearly broke my heart.  How could they ignore the warnings? With no concern for possible cancer, reproductive, or brain development issues that can be caused by mercury consumption?  I had to leave.

I’ve had my rants about Olin in the past, and I will try not to repeat myself, but these are the facts:

  • Olin is on record, and has known of the impending need to convert their plant to mercury-free technology – yet has repeated chosen to ignore their responsibility, and they are now crying foul.  With the threat of pending legislation which would require them to convert their plant within 2 years, they are now attempting everything possible to stop passage of the bill.  And they are being facilitated by indulgent (and well-lobbied) politicians – namely Senator Bob Corker (R) and Representative Zach Wamp (R).
  • Olin has successfully converted other plants – including McIntosh, AL, Niagra Falls, NY, and St. Gabriel, LA – and yet continue their exuse-making when it comes to the Charleston, TN, plant.  Because they have been allowed to get away with it.  Because they know the political will to protect the health and well-being of the river and local citizenry doesn’t exist – it is the hallmark of every environmental disaster brought about by abusive corporations and the political power they purchase. Coupled with the recent decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn restrictions on corporate spending in elections, it can only get worse.
  • Olin bases their refusal to convert the Charleston plant on expense and jobs “lost” – which they know is complete fiction.  Over 100 other plants have demonstrated that the conversion to mercury-free technology can be completed within 18-24 months, with minimal production downtime.  The converted plants not only provide safer working environments for their employees and surrounding residents/neighborhoods, but also save energy and increase production capacity.  A similar conversion by PPG provided jobs for over 250 additional workers.  Olin, your excuses just don’t fly!

  • Olin continues to claim that conversion of the plant is “economically unfeasible” … So can they please explain to me how they can justify their recent disclosure of obscene executive pay increases?  Joseph Rupp, Chairman/President/CEO of Olin Corp. received 14% pay raise, awarding him annual salary of 5.7 million dollars. John McIntosh, President of the Chlor Alkalai received 12% pay raise, bringing his annual salary to $1.4 million.  Please explain to me how a plant conversion is “economically unfeasible” when contrasted with your executive compensation?

So, it’s Earth Day.  And Walter Cronkite was quite the visionary.  The problems remain.  The Mercury Pollution Reduction Act appears to be stalled in the federal bureaucratic black hole.  The mercury dumping continues.  A little boy is eating toxic fish.  The problems remain.

What could I say to him?

speak out

If you didn’t hear this from yesterday’s post – here it is again:

Following up … Upon listening, a number of like-minded friends, both cyclists and non-cyclists, have expressed their outrage over what was advocated on the broadcast.  Many tweets have flown around, some have sent emails, written blog posts, written letters, etc., denouncing the station for their reckless promotion of violence toward cyclists.  If you care to take action, I’ve listed three ways in which you can act: write a letter, send an email, and/or file a complaint online with the FCC.  The FCC has a provision to allow individuals to report a station “Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group”. Personally, when someone expresses a desire to throw something at my head, or go Grand Theft Auto on me, “intimidating” is how I hear it.  It will obviously be up to the FCC to make the final determination, but it could certainly make a point, or at least cause some headaches, if multiple reports were to be filed.

To file a complaint report …

On the FCC complaint page, select: “Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues”

On the next page select: “Unauthorized, unfair, biased, illegal broadcasts” (this is where the FCC provision against “Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group” is found)

Fill in your personal information, and on the following page you can enter the details about this particular broadcast, including:

Radio Station: WCSX
Radio Frequency: 94.7
City: Detroit, MI
Program Name: Deminski & Doyle Morning Show
Date of Program: 08/05/2009
Time: 8:00am

If you want to write a letter:

Greater Media President & CEO Peter Smyth
Greater Media
35 Braintree Hill Park, Suite 300
Braintree, MA  02184

If you would like to send Mr. Smyth an email: peter@greatermedia.com

If you would like to send the station head(?) an email: theboss@wcsx.com

If you would like to send the show’s Executive Producer (my brother-in-law) an email: WCSXJim@aol.com

Finally, if you can, check out this letter sent by LAB President Andy Clarke to the president of Greater Media.  Very well done.

** 8/14/09 update: I just found out that League of Michigan Bicyclists has started a petitions drive, you can sign it here: Boycott Greater Media for intolerable remarks against cyclists They have a 1,000 signature goal; we can help them out.


shock jerks & my apologies

Earlier today I read this post (bikefitness.net) by a fellow cycling advocate and twitter friend.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard similar stuff before, but I found some of the blatant aggressive anti-cyclist language used by these “shock jocks”, Deminski and Doyle, particularly offensive.  Cyclists have been called “arrogant”, “jerks” and “idiots” before, but I’ve never heard a public declaration by a “media” person stating “…you’d love to lob something at their heads”, and “… makes you want to go Grand Theft Auto on them, but you can’t” (in reference to the violent video game where characters are beaten to death).

Here’s the actual audio clip by Deminski and Doyle from radio station WCSX in Detroit:

OK, I found it more than sufficiently disturbing and offensive – filled with not only grossly inaccurate stereotypes about cyclists, total lack of knowledge over cycling rights and legislation, and violent and aggressive suggestions for drivers when encountering and passing cyclists.  Enough said – I know it’s the game the shock jerks play.  As a friend so aptly put it – don’t buy in the shock jock stupidity; it’s exactly the kind of rage they’re trying to elicit.

But the experience became more interesting … I have a brother in-law who is a morning show producer for a Detroit area radio station. Couldn’t recall the name of his station, but decided to email my sister in-law, asking if she or my BIL knew of these guys.  Never even mentioned the bike spot in my query.

What came back to me literally knocked me off my chair.  Not only does my brother know these shock jerks, he works at the very station – with them! It appears he is the executive producer of the show!  And apparently neither my SIL or BIL find anything wrong with what was said.  (At the request of, and in respect for, my husband, I have subsequently edited this post – regarding my personal feelings over this particular matter).

I extend apologies to all of my cycling friends and peeps – for this offensive garbage that was facilitated, in part, by members of my extended family.

I just have no words right now.  I sent a picture off to brother- and sister-in-law … a picture of their own cycling family members.  Next time they condone calling cyclists “jerks” and “idiots” deserving of having things thrown at their heads, I hope they will think of us.

Call your own family arrogant jerks and idiots and advocate violence against us...

Call your own family members arrogant jerks and idiots and advocate violence against them...