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Dear Bicyclists

[a response to some FB threads]

I wish, I really wish, that there wasn't this wall between Bikers and Drivers. It's not true, really, many bikers are drivers and so forth, and of course (ha!) all of us are goddamn people, and we don't have to fit into these silly roles. But, so many bikers have made themselves a little subculture, a rather self-righteous one from the outside. To which I really don't give a shit, or wouldn't, if it wasn't for the antagonism I feel from you towards Drivers. Yes, I am a Driver, and sometimes a Walker. But because Drivers are encased in our tanks, I think you see us as removed, as faceless, nameless, emotionless as enemy agents in a first-person shooter. It's easy (you see how reasonable I am) — a car can kill a bicyclist so much faster, so much less intentionally than a biker can harm a driver. That probably why you see us as stoopid for the most part. Such simple little mishaps from a driver carry such huge consequences for a biker. Cars (and therefore drivers) injure and kill bicyclists as well as walkers and other drivers. But I am not an enemy agent.

Did you know, little hipster, that when you quip about weaving in the road "so that drivers are forced to pay attention," did you know that you terrify me? Break my heart? Do you know that when I see you, I am terrified that you will die? Yes, people fucking die, did you know that? I am terrified even more that I will kill you. When I see a bicycle, I see death, and grief, and too many things. I see rage, my own rage at stupid drivers, even more at the evil motherfuckers who try to hit bikers of both sorts. I see my rage at YOU — you who aren't obeying traffic laws, who aren't riding with a helmet, who don't have a light at night on dark streets. You laugh that "when I see a light I steer clear - maybe it looks like the cops!" As if I care about the cops. As if I care about anything more in that moment than protecting your own stupid life from your carelessness or a possible mishap from me.

None of these circumstances were present in my husband's death. No one was acting irrationally or in any way other than normally. Erik, riding his bike by the parked cars, the woman who opened her door into him, the bus driver who ran over his body, none of these people by themselves did anything evil by intention. Or were even very careless. It was an accident. A random concatenation of circumstances. Not meant by anyone.

Certainly none of you who are reading this are to blame, and nothing you do will have any effect on his death. It would be easy for you to dismiss my rage, my grief, as not really your problem. But then the wall of Us. vs. Them would be that much higher, and who does that help?

We are all so arrogant. I think you are faster and less visible than you think you are. You think your actions and intentions are clear to me—they are not. I am so pleased when I see a bicyclist wearing a helmet, using a turn signal, wearing multiple lights. I am sure I don't know how menacingly large my car looks to you, how much you feel its force and velocity as it passes you. I know it makes you feel vulnerable. I know you ARE vulnerable. I wish with all my heart that you were not.

Assume that you are invisible to me, because you probably are. But please don't assume that I'm the enemy.

Icon meme

From sillyzilly2k, a meme for your Sunday:

1. Reply to this post with "UNICORNS", and I will pick five of your icons.
2. Make a post (including the meme info) and talk about the icons I chose.
3. Other people can then comment to you and make their own posts.
4. This will create a never-ending cycle of icon glee.

Her choices; my answers.

I have never given much thought to my icons. When I set up my account, I just chose 15 pics from a set that I happened to have scanned (as this was in my pre-digital era). But I guess most of them do have specific meanings to me. :-)


Masks: I took this photo around 1998, in a costume store in Pleasanton. I think of it as an evil smiley face. It means that snark is coming your way!


Carnival Beasts: From 2003. This is from a carnival I went to in Oakland with graymalkn and funranium. I've always been charmed by the beasts' dippy look. In post-land this pic denotes silliness.


Kings X: I took this pic in 1997 at, yes, King's Cross Station in London. It's blurry but I've always been fond of it. Travel, flight, speed, wistfulness, or Harry Potter could all follow this icon.


Angel: This is one of the angel statues at the Exploratorium, circa 2002. It probably means I'm conscious that my comment looks like me delivering Wisdom From On High. More than usual, I mean!


Porter Path: I took this when I was in college, around 1995. It's at UCSC, on the path between Porter Bridge and Porter College. I loved the mysteriousness of the white fog and shadowy trees on this day. Alas, I'm not sure this path exists anymore. I drove around UCSC yesterday with captainoz, Elizabeth, and Sharon, and I think this may have been built over in the extension of Porter. But we didn't get out of the car at all, so I'm not sure. Anyway, this pic symbolizes darkness, mystery, secrets, wistfulness, etc.

Ravenclaw tower, here I come!

I haven't posted in 10 million years, and tons has changed in my life... so why not a quiz?? Can't say I'm surprised to be in Ravenclaw, but I am surprised the split was so even. Stolen from captainoz :

Your result for The Sorting Hat: A Comprehensive Harry Potter Personality Assessment [Test/Quiz]...


54% Ravenclaw, 40% Hufflepuff, 51% Slytherin and 54% Gryffindor!




Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,

if you've a ready mind,

Where those of wit and learning,

Will always find their kind;










The cardinal traits of Ravenclaw are intellect, wit and openness to experience. They are the most introverted house of the four. Ravenclaws are more likely to prefer small gatherings of like-minded individuals and require recooperation after stressful social interaction. These individuals are intuitive creatures, the quintessential researchers. They lack the stubborn, strict, and rule-abiding qualities that would inhibit intellectual growth—one can't be too set in their ways if they are to be open to exploring new ideas and paths of thought.In contrast to Slytherin and Gryffindor, Ravenclaws in general are much more emotionally stable. Their reactions seem dampened compared to the sometimes dramatic responses of the other houses—they're much less likely to get offended, they're more open to criticism, not particularly argumentative and interested in hearing different points of view. They can at times seem to be less interested in people and more interested in their own inner world, and appear to be disconnected from the rest of humanity.

Ambition is secondary to them. Although they may strive to excel in school, knowledge and self-enrichment is the primary goal as opposed to simply wanting good marks. If they do happen to strive for excellence, it is because it fits with their other goals, not out of a desire to be superior or the best. Due to their intuitiveness and willingness to listen, Ravenclaws can be empathetic and make good advisors. They should generally leave leadership roles to people who are more extraverted and who would enjoy them more, however.

Take The Sorting Hat: A Comprehensive Harry Potter Personality Assessment [Test/Quiz] at HelloQuizzy


I thought about this last night, yes. And then while at Peet's at ~4:30 pm. And then just now reading sillyzilly2k 's entry.

It's been a pretty hectic week or two. As of yesterday, I have a job in Santa Cruz. Starting August 1, I will be writing math video scripts for Learning in Motion, a curriculum development house on Cooper St in downtown Santa Cruz. And I also have an apartment 1 block off of West Cliff Drive, right by the memorial surfer statue (OK, and the lighthouse). I'm moving in about 2 weeks - ? Apparently?? Help?

While it's true I set myself the goal of moving by the end of July awhile ago, and also true that I've been Getting Rid of Things to that end for over a month, this whole gainful employment complication happened quite randomly and quickly, and precipitated choosing an apartment immediately. Luckily, I love this location: I think I'll have an ocean view, and I know I'll take lots of walks along W. Cliff. But it's all been so sudden that I don't know if I'm happy or sad or both or what. Moving is always like that for me, though. And this move is . . . complicated.

The apartment's quite small, and on the third floor, but there's an elevator. It's laid out well for being so small and having so few closets. And the size will encourage my lack of attachment to material objects (ha ha). My mom and my friends have been awesome in helping me purge. Purge is a harsh word. It feels more like excavation: clearing away the extraneous matter to see the bones. We're a long way from bones yet, but it still feels good.

For the sake of 12 of 12, here's what I did today. 
  1. Drove to Walden House in the city, dropped off most of Erik's clothes, some of mine, a lot of toys and videos, and a few other things. Because he worked there, it felt right for them to have his clothes, especially.
  2. Had lunch with Erik's old coworker Mieko. We had expensive but yummy sushi.
  3. Drove to my car place in Berkeley to get regular maintenance done on the Prius.
  4. While they worked, walked to Strawberry Creek Park and had lovely interlude drinking coffee and being in the green.
  5. Picked up the car and went to Peet's in Emeryville. Finished The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodman. I enjoyed it more this time, but still don't think it makes a great deal of sense. Luckily he gets better as he goes along in the series. Then I did moving planning stuff, like listing my furniture and figuring out what might fit where in the new place and trying to think how to get rid of the rest of it.
  6. Came home. Josephine came over with Zachary's pizza—we ate, then cleaned up the computer table and made a dent in the stuff that Mike L, Mike H, Sascha, and I brought down from the attic on Saturday (which is currently filling Erik's room to scary hoarder proportions).
  7. Josephine left, and Lucy appeared, as if by quantum teleportation.
Next 12 will be from Santa Cruz!

Games People Play (and give away)

See my previous post on all that I'm giving away. I can't list all the books or other things, but I thought I would list the games. As an enticement, and for those who can't come to my apartment. If you live in LA or I'll see you sometime soon-ish, and you really want a game, we can probably arrange that. Leave a comment or email me. As with the videos, first come first serve.

Board Games
  • Abalone
  • Army of Frogs
  • Axis & Allies
  • Balderdash
  • Carcassonne New World
  • Chinese checkers
  • Diplomacy
  • Haunting House
  • Hexagon Nuevo Juego Ciencia! (hex map chess)
  • Mexican Train (dominoes)
  • Noble Celts (circular chess)
  • Nuclear War
  • Set Cubed
  • Settlers of Cataan
  • Star Wars Monopoly
  • The Game of Things
  • travel Go and chess set
  • Upwords (3D Scrabble)
Card Games
  • Crack the Case
  • Gother than Thou
  • Guillotine
  • Lunch Money
  • some Magic cards (green and white, I think a playing deck)
  • Parlor Games deck
  • Scrabble Slam
Other: Battletech. I'd prefer Erik's Battletech supplies (and yes, funranium , I did find his mechs) to go to someone who played with him. Assuming any of you want them. You know who you are.

Moving giveaway

Yes, I am moving. By July 31. I don't know where to yet, though I'm assuming Bay Area. (If any of you know of a great place to live, let me know! It must not be in Oakland and should be somewhere close to water.)

I plan on having less than half as much stuff by then as I have now. This means that I would love for any and all of you to come over in the next 2 weeks and take what you like. Obviously I will let you know what you can't have!

Parting with most of Erik's things is necessary yet difficult for me. I would prefer that they ended up in the hands of his and my friends and family rather than strangers. I know we all have a lot of stuff, though, so I do understand if you don't want any more. But PLEASE don't feel like you don't have a right to it, or something like that.

If you want to come and see, leave a comment or email me and we can set up a time before the 4th of July. After that, things will be sold or given to charity.

Things you can help me by taking:
  • Books—LOTS of books: cooking, humor, sci-fi, military and religious history, philosophy, magic, witchcraft, etc, etc...
  • Games: see following post for list
  • Tools
  • Magic trick supplies
  • Jewelry (mine, not Erik's...)
  • Clothes (both)
  • We can talk if you're interested in furniture.
  • As they say, "and so much more!"
Please ask if you're curious about something not mentioned here.

I know this is kind of awkward and weird, but you really would be helping me by doing this. If you want to help me ;-) but don't want more stuff, I would also appreciate people hanging out with me while I go through things, as this goes much better with company.


12 of 12: June, LA to Oakland Edition

And this 12 of 12 finds me hanging out with friends in LA, or more particularly Redlands, after a wedding the day before. It also features an evening trip up the 5. Lo, the night is dark, my friends. 12 of 12 is the brainchild of Chad Darnell.

11:09 am, West Hollywood: My friend John let me stay in his apartment, even though he wasn't there. This greatly aided my sanity throughout the weekend.

Friends, a bird, and a lot of milesCollapse )


12 of 12: May, Non-Eureka Edition

This 12 of 12 was very poignant for me. A year ago today was a great day, in Eureka. Erik was just getting into 12 of 12, too. In fact this was his last LJ entry.

This year at least there were friends and cats. As always 12 of 12 cred goes to Chad Darnell.

12:30 pm, Oakland: Just missed the "shining morning" thing.

Views from parking places, better than they soundCollapse )


Hi all, I am back home in grey, drizzly California, missing the English sunshine and trying to drive on the righthand side of the road again. Here's some photos, but just to round off this little travelogue...

Portmeirion, AKA The Village from The Prisoner: I think my favorite place I went on the trip. An architect decided to build a whole village to be fun and beautiful. And he didn't end up with Disneyland! No, he actually succeeded, and it's called Portmeirion, and it's one of those very special places that start fake and become real. Like the Palace of Fine Arts. I have a great fondness for these places. Portmeirion is also, quite simply, camera candy. See above note re architect.

Then I headed to an inn on a country road outside of Skipton in Yorkshire. I really think on my next visit to England, I should do Yorkshire first. This makes the second time I've been there at the end of a trip, when I'm rather tired, so I don't think I've gotten a fair impression of it. I did drive around on the moors, which are indeed imposing and barren and lovely. pasajera  says they remind her of the desert; they reminded me of the ocean; I suppose we both mean they have a feeling of vast solitude. And apart from the moors, the countryside is quite lovely too—hillier than southern England, which seems more natural to our Californian eyes. Though Yorkshire is also a lot more settled than Cornwall and the other parts of southern England I was in, hence some annoying traffic at times.

My Jane Austen doll and I did invade the Bronte Parsonage Museum, which was interesting. More formal than Jane Austen's house in Chawton, meaning there were rope barriers and all that. They did have an actual dress of Charlotte's, which was surprisingly nice, and seeing just how much the Bronte's stories were based on their lives was also interesting. That same day I went to a David Hockney gallery in Bradford, the industrial town where he grew up (and enjoyed escaping from, seeing as how he painted CA so much, and lives here too.) But they have a lot of his earlier work, and his most recent work, which he creates by "painting" on the iPad. Flower still-lifes mostly, and some of them very good.

Next day, I went to Castle Howard, which is really a very grand manor house. If you've seen either version of Brideshead Revisited, you'll know Castle Howard, as they both were filmed there (and they think Waugh had in it mind when he wrote the book anyway.) Then, the next day I drove up to Brimham Rocks, recommended by more than one person, and actually very close to where I was staying. Freaky rock formations featured in The Princess Bride (funranium , you'd enjoy the geology). I got quite a shock as the place was swarmed with families on Spring Break. But it was still beautiful and even eerie, and I love taking photos of tourists, so that was all right.

The 19th and 20th were both long days of travel, stressful at the time, but not too exciting to hear about blow-by-blow. On the 19th I turned in my car at York Rail Station and trained down to King's Cross (which is my icon here.) I left in plenty of time EXCEPT for the massive roadwork traffic jam getting into York. Due to that and other fun details, I only barely made my train, and that because it was 10 min late. Dinner with Graham in London (I was so pleased to see London after so many small towns!), up at 4:30 to get to Heathrow, 8+ hours to Chicago, just JUST missed my connecting flight, got onto a completely full one 3 hrs later, a very claustrophobic 4.5 hrs, botched rental car arrangements, BART, the kindness of captainoz  in conveying me home, and here I am. And that, as they said, is another story.

England ENGLAND: Wells to Conwy

We continue with no photo uploading. Sorry about that. Here's some words to read instead. Places been:

1) Wells Cathedral and Bishop's Palace: I went crazy for photos in Wells Cathedral—it's gorgeous, and oh! the geometry! Mesmerizing! I particularly loved the Chapter House, which looked rather like the inside of a tree - amazing fan vaulting. For all you Blackadder fans, the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells does pretty well for himself, lovely abbey ruins in a nice garden setting. Next day Wells had its market, which was exactly like farmer's markets in CA and Oregon. Fresh, organic fruit and veg, locally made cheeses, etc, antique and jewelry booths, weird kitschy stuff. More books and less olive oil at this one, though. Sausages instead of Mexican food.

2) Glastonbury Abbey: Only about 10 miles tops from Wells. I'd forgotten the abbey is right in the middle of town, though with a large park enclosing it. Glastonbury town is basically the English Santa Cruz. New Agey shops, goths, dyed hair, etc. So that was funny. More obvious and different types of tourists than anywhere else I've been. The abbey itself was rather disappointing. I think the problem was that it was a bright, sunny day, glaring, really, and the ruins have been scrubbed clean of plant life, and there's no gardening around then - just grass. So it was pretty barren. It lacked Romantic atmosphere. As for King Arthur... well. It was too tenuous for me to feel any interest looking at the spot where 1,000 years ago, people supposedly reburied bones they'd found elsewhere that were supposedly Arthur and Guinevere's.

3) Lacock Abbey and village: A whole village preserved by the National Trust, and an abbey bought from Henry VIII after the Dissolution and converted into a house, ala Northanger Abbey! Plus, William Henry Fox Talbot, who invented modern photography, owned Lacock Abbey, so there was a museum about him. The museum had a decent exhibit on Talbot's methods, but didn't actually have any original Talbot work in it! I wonder where it is - ? Must look. The abbey was fun, mostly for Catherine M's sake, though I didn't walk around the village much. (Too bright, too hot, the English don't do shade really.) However, both the village and the abbey-like parts of the abbey have been in numerous films, including HP 1 and 2.

4) Avebury: The biggest stone circle, and one where you and the sheep (and the village) wander freely amidst the stones. Roz and I were there back in 1997, but I wanted to go back. So damned hot, and nowhere to sit, I was happy to lean against the shady sides of the stones, which were cool. I thought of Frodo at the Barrows, but haven't noticed any wights hanging about since. Too many tourists, probably.

5) Tintern Abbey: Then I headed out of Wells and over into Welsh border country, which is very beautiful, and thank goodness has some woods for a change. Though it's also been cooler, and I hear we'll have rain (because it's Wales). Tintern was nicer than Glastonbury, though still too tidy for pure Romance - much tidier than in JMW Turner's picture from ~1800. At least it was in a wooded valley by a river! and not in the middle of a town. Though it was right by the road, which was funny because just as I was thinking, "OK, now to find the abbey," there it hove, large as life.

6) Hay-on-Wye: A name I swear I am not making up, though I hear it in my mind as Ham-on-Rye. The Wye River is the border between England and Wales, at least in some places. It's such a little river, though, that it's kind of amusing. Hay is barely on the English side, and is famous for having, apparently, more bookstores per capita than anywhere else in the world! I got there after they were closed, and left early, so contented myself with window-browsing. As if I need more books in my suitcase...

7) The Welsh countryside: I left Hay early because yesterday I drove most of the length of Wales and not speedily either. Still only took a few hours. ;-) Lovely country, with many many sheep, as advertised. Lots of little lambs. I stopped in at Bondant Gardens, which was rather like Filoli on the peninsula, only hillier, and got into Conwy in good time. My most interesting driving experience to date: the street the B&B is on is one lane, and I MEAN one lane, yet cars park along it, halfway up on the curb, i.e. inches from the buildings, and to pass them you have to drive halfway up on the other curb. Which is I guess what you get for driving in a city built in 1289. This house is Victorian, though, built for a Wesleyan Methodist preacher. (Cue G&S fans.)

8) Conwy: Conwy's a cute little town surrounded by medieval walls and with one of the most complete ruined castles I've ever seen. I guess there wasn't much civil war action up here? Anyway, ramparts, towers, even royal apartments and rooms where you could still make out the fireplaces. Non-scary spiral staircases too, for a castle. And I also went to Plas Mawr, an Elizabethan townhouse, which was quite interesting. Fun, also, in that it doesn't have ropes, and they don't care if you touch most of the stuff. It has a lot of plasterwork on the walls and ceilings, some of which they've repainted as it supposedly was. And I swear, Mike Judge painted the caryatids, which were the most ridiculous looking females ever. If caryatids appeared in Beavis and Butthead (an interesting thought, no?), this is how they would look.

More words! Random thoughts:

Food so far hasn't been a highlight. Ha ha, you say, you're in Britain! Duh! There's an Italian place next door to the B&B here in Conwy, and it's just not up to snuff. They don't cut the pizzas for you - I guess for the simple comedy of watching patrons try to cut pizza crust with table knives. The spaghetti was also only barely acceptable. I thought the people looked Italian, maybe I'm wrong. My two big successes have been the Bangledeshi place in Wells, best Indian food I've had in quite awhile, if you're in Wells definitely go to Cafe Romna, and the Dolphin Tavern in Penzance, which had a surprising yummy steak and ale pie. In this case, "pie" meant "round of puff pastry on top of stew", but that was fine. And the clotted cream has been wonderful, of course. Really, why have Americans not adopted clotted cream? Quoting Alton Brown: "I'm not saying it's the best thing in the world for you; I'm just saying it's the best thing in the world." Are these not qualities Americans can get behind? animedarling , I think you are missing a business opportunity here!

I thought the weird English village names in stories were an exaggeration, but they're not. Standouts in my memory: Tolpuddle Ball (which sounds more like one of sillyzilly2k 's Dickensian ancestors), Piddlehaven (YES. REALLY.), Pant (??), and of course Ham-on-Rye, I mean Hay-on-Wye. Also speed bumps are called humps, so you get "Humped zebra crossing" signs, lol, and every village has a pub called the White Hart and a hotel called the Swan.

I really love old things. The older the better. Europeans look down on Americans for that, I think, yet also look down on us for not having old things, so whatever. The redwoods are old. That's one reason I love them.

That is all for today. Tomorrow, Portmeirion, AKA The Village from The Prisoner. If I get suffocated by a white balloon, I'll let you know.


Isabella Bilunabirotunda

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