So the bike commuting worked well last week. In fact, better than anticipated when I found out that the tech guys at school are also bike geeks and fixed my derailleur while I was in class. Bonus!
But I've also realized that I'm engaging in an entirely different kind of commuting than I used to. In the old days (please have your best "old lady" voice when reading this part), I would ride to work in bike gear (read technical, lycra, and tight) and change in the handicap stall in the bathroom at work. That is not the case here ("old lady" voice can stop now). I'm going for the "Hey, I'm a regular albeit stylish gal on her way to work" look, which, yes, requires some wardrobe adjustments. When there was a threat of rain (thankfully it rained while I taught), I realized a reassessment of foul weather gear was in order.
After a bit of soul-searching (specialty of over-thinkers everywhere) and comparison shopping, I found what I'm hoping will fit a tick a number of boxes - the Cassandra Cycle Coat. Firstly, it's smart (check out the details), stylish, and waterproof. Secondly, it is easily wearable off the bike. Thirdly, the company endeavors to support local industry (in England where they're located), and they use bio-degradable plastic to keep packaging out of landfills. Bonuses? British (synonymous with rain, no?) and a woman-owned company.
I ordered mine in red. It'll match my bike, natch. Once it arrives and I've had a chance to try it out, I'll report on it here.
(If you're a male reader, they also have a coat for men, and Brompton cycles has made a gorgeous sports coat-type cycling jacket.)
As I may have mentioned, our son Ian (aka the boy) is apprenticing as a tattoo artist at Sacred Rose Tattoo in Berkeley, CA. The photo above shows one of his most recent pieces. Anyway, he's looking for more people to work on and is only charging $50/session. For more details, you can email him (i.bh.a.manleyATgmail.com) or call him at 510.883.1083 (Sacred Rose Tattoo).
If you're not convinced yet, check out the flash he painted for us for Christmas last year -
It may be obvious from the above photo, which makes the bike bag look like a Japanese designer skirt, that it really doesn't fit ViaRail's (or probably anyone else's right now) carry-on size limitations. The bike only weighs 11.5 kg (25.4 lb), but it's still bulky, and ViaRail charges $20 EACH WAY to transport a bike (please tell me how "green" you are again). So plan B is to drive to work Wednesday, bringing the bike and leaving it there for the term. I'm hoping it'll be a smooth ride from there on out. When I have a bit more time, I'll work on tightening the bag's profile.
Okay, it's quite rudimentary, but I made a bag for my Dahon folding bike. My goal is to bring my bike with me on the train and then use it for local transportation at my destination (a.k.a. work). Despite the fact that I left my fabric scissors at home and couldn't find a decent sewing tape measure at the studio, I managed to pull this together.
The Dahon on a single layer of fabric
It's quite simple. There's no bottom seam; I simply fold the bag over the bike and then close the sides with velcro. I already know I'm going to need to get some snaps to supplement the velcro, but it should be enough for the train. I used two different fabrics, which, like all the other supplies I used, I already had. In fact, I made a yoga mat bag out of the same fabric. At this rate, I'll have my own matching luggage set! The fabrics are upholdstery-grade so the bag should be pretty strong. I sewed two handles along the top, but I plan to carry it very far. When I have some more time, I'll finesse the fit and design. But for a three-hour project, I'm pretty pleased.
How bad is it when you're distracted from your current project (just started the centre back panel of my Alabama Chanin dress) by a photo from your own blog repinned on Pinterest? The irony that the post was titled, "W.I.Ps? What About Them?" is not lost on me. But maybe knitting up a swatch (I already have the yarn, thank you very much) is not the worst thing in the world...
So this morning I was listening to the radio in my car when I heard the DJs on Indi101 mention an article on Fox Business (whose subtitle is "The Power to Prosper"?!) about graduate degrees that don't pay off. Was I surprised that the first one they mentioned was the M.F.A.? Can you imagine how tired I am of people talking when it's clear they have no idea what they're talking about? Just try to imagine. I'm sure you can get the picture.
Yes, I have an M.F.A., which will now also stand for series of curse words. Give me an M.F.A. break! So the Fox article (are we serious here?) states simply that the investment doesn't necessarily yield higher salaries. I guess this is where one of our main issues resides - that higher education is about making more money. (This falls in line with the logic that a university education is essentially glorified job-training.) If we take that out of the equation, the article loses most of its punch (for me, at least). I'm not against making money, and there are M.F.A.s out there who make plenty of money, but I'm a writer first and foremost. I'm always happy to get paid for it.
But these DJs were just plain stupid. I believe the banter essentially (not verbatim) went something like this:
Beavis: "Masters of Fine Art - what do you do with that?"
Butthead: "Fine art stuff."
Beavis: "Oh yeah, what kind of job can you have with that?"
I'm not sure why they didn't apply this logic to the B.A. Does that mean that everyone who has one is in art? Or a bachelor? I really hope that this does not reflect the kind of education Mohawk College (where Indie101 broadcasts from, often using students as talent) provides. I'm sure that there has been more than one professor at Mohawk who had an M.F.A.
Unfortunately, I'm not surprised by this lack of information as the Dean of Humanities at McMaster University put out a job ad a little while ago that offered different levels of pay for M.F.A. and Ph.D. candidates. Are you serious? Is that even legal? Newsflash! The M.F.A. is a terminal degree. (I know - they're trying to suck us into Ph.D. programs but that has more to do with money than what you study and do). This is the other major issue - the idea that the M.F.A. is a lesser degree.
We are makers, not just academics (yes, I said - not just academics - oooh, I'm on a roll now). Teaching writing, like I do? Do you want someone who actually does it in addition to being educated on the subject or someone who has spent some extra years researching writers? I'm not saying that those with a Ph.D. don't make good writing professors, but frankly, I'd rather have someone engaged with the subject full-on.
We went to the Ottawa Street Farmers' Market this weekend, and I couldn't resist picking up a couple of eggplants even though the ladyfriend doesn't like them. This caponata may change her mind...if only I can stop picking at it and let it sit for the recommended 24 hours.
I managed to use at least 3/4 of the bushel of cucumbers I bought. Some of them are fermenting away in our front room, giving the house a nice pickle smell upon entrance. (Unfortunately one of the crocks is leaking, and I'm going to have to transfer them.) They could be ready as early as this Saturday or as late as next Saturday.
In addition to the long-fermenting koshers, I made a couple of batches of "Quicker Koshers," some bread and butter pickles, and some cucumber relish. I never knew that cucumber relish could be so yummy. All the recipes have come from Canning for a New Generation by Lianna Krissoff, a book I think is pretty great (except it doesn't mention pressure canners once, as far as I can tell - is there discrimination in the canning world?).