Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gutenberg Trivia

I've been wandering around with a head full of random facts that nobody should really know or retain. I don't know why they float around in my head as they do, but I'm going to try to purge them by offering a little trivia. The winner will receive the pride of knowing that s/he got the answer correct. I will be posting a video of the birthday boy walking tomorrow, but I'm curious to see if anyone else has the same random facts floating around in their head.

You're a fly on the wall in Gutenberg's workspace and you hear him tell a couple of young boys to 'mind their p's and q's'. What was Gutenberg talking about? And as a little bonus/hint question, on which rack where they located?

I may also have some temperature trivia coming up after the birthday party tomorrow (I know, you can hardly wait).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Whenever people talk about the weather it means that they don't have anything else to talk about...

So the weather here has been terrible. It snowed a few inches last night. When I woke up to go to work it was sleeting (that's when the rain freezes and little ice droplets hit the earth). Then in the warmth of the day (the high was ~28) it started raining, but then freezing on the ground. The parking lot at my work was covered in about 3 inches of solid ice when I left this evening.

Tonight it is supposed to rain until it gets colder and then it will snow. We're supposed to have a couple more inches of accumulation. I'm not completely sure what that means. I know what a couple inches of snow is, and that's easy to deal with, but a couple inches of ice is a more complicated situation. Snow plows can't plow it and cars can't drive on it. Actually, it was good that there was snow last night because that was the only thing providing traction on the roads today. I think it's funny that the weather forecasters can't tell us what is going to accumulate. It's especially funny since a couple inches of rain is a lot different than a couple inches of snow as far as total water content.

Tomorrow's objective is to post pictures of my youngest son walking... he's getting pretty good.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where in the world is Sans Auto?

The title has a double meaning. First off, I am wondering where I went. As we look at houses, those that are further away are looking more and more attractive. We are outside of bike commuting, but the homes and land are far more attractive. The last two years were great, commuting daily by bike and living almost entirely without a car. I'm afraid of losing my persona of "Sans Auto", I loved the lifestyle, however I have always dreamed of a house and small farm. Some people have to live on farms and grow food. I want to be one of them. One of the conditions I have made with myself is that if I have to drive to work, I will have enough land to grow food and sell it at a farmer's market. So where is Sans Auto? He may be on his way out. He may be moving to 'Avec Auto' (with auto) and 'Avec une ferme' (with a farm). We'll see where we're headed (I like how I moved from first, to third to second person in that paragraph that was all about one person).

Now I want to address our new home in Kentucky. We moved East. We now live in the Eastern time zone. You might say that we live in the east, but no. This really isn't the East. In the civil war Kentucky was a border state and based on climate is sometimes considered a Southern state, but no, Kentucky really isn't in the South. At one time Kentucky was on the Western frontier. That is obviously no longer the case, but I've heard Kentucky refered to as a western state. Technically Kentucky is located in the Midwest. Still that doesn't make sense to me. Nebraska is in the Midwest, Kentucky is east of that. So I still wonder, where in the world is Sans Auto?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Today I'm going to post pictures. I still haven't gotten pictures of my commute, but I hope to at some point. Every time I look through pictures to post, I find that my middle son is by far the most photogenic. So I've got three pictures of Sixpence, and one of the Mugwump and Jaguar.

The first photo is of the Mugwump coming down the slide at the playground outside our new apartment. Sixpence is also in the photo, but I'm not sure whether there was a collision at the bottom of the slide or whether the Mugwump was sitting on Sixpence's head the entire way down the slide. In either case, the Mugwump looks happy and Sixpence... Well, if he's sad you can't tell.

Then we have a picture of the little one. This is a picture of him at the park, but when we went to open a new bank account, he single handedly entertained about 8 female employees for a half hour or more. I can only imagine how much money he wasted as people who were supposed to be working were playing peek-a-boo, making faces or talking in baby talk to him.

Going with the park theme, this is Sixpence posing for a picture. From what I've seen (in the dead of winter) this should not be called 'The Bluegrass State', but rather 'The Browngrass State'.

I think this is a wonderful picture of Sixpence. He was extremely tired, but check out that hair! We really like his hair longer instead of short, but we don't know how to cut it without buzzing it. So we let it grow. At some point he'll start looking like a girl and we'll have to do something, but for now I think this kid has the coolest hair ever.
I really hope to get pictures of my commute. I honestly can't think of a prettier ride and I'm excited to brag a little about the ride that I get to take on a regular basis (except tomorrow, it's currently raining/snowing and tomorrow's high is supposed to be 27).

If this works, I'm also going to put in a video of each kid here at the bottom. Excuse the pornographic images.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm "one of them"

We've moved. I love my new job, I love the Lexington area, and I love the people. So far this has been a wonderful move for me and my family. I anticipate that it will remain a good move, but I have not been in the least bit disappointed.

OK, I've been a little disappointed, but it all revolves around my cycling. I have a great commute through some of the most spectacular scenery you could imagine, but I have only done it once in the last two weeks. I've had pretty good excuses most of the time. I drove on my first day because it was the first day and my family proceeded to tour the city while I was at work. I drove on the second day because my dad had a flight and he refused to ride with his luggage on my handlebars.

Wednesday and Thursday of last week was cold and snowy. I don't mind riding in the cold and snow, but not on unfamiliar roads. This week has either been really cold or I started early. If I'm supposed to be at work at 6 and it takes an hour and a half to ride it and I like to give myself a little extra time in case I get a flat or something. Suddenly I was going to have to wake up while the first number on the clock was a 3. I'm a morning person, but that's too early.

I've also struggled with logistics. There are no lockers at work that can be used overnight. That means that I have to pack everything in and out of work in my bag which is doable, but inconvenient. I don't like walking through buildings in my cycling shoes because I'm afraid they're going to eat up the flooring (or I'm going to fall on my butt and look like an idiot).

Today I decided it was too cold because I have been unable to find my cycling glasses with the clear lenses. With the temperature in the single digits, it's a recipe for frostbite, so that's a bad idea.

I've become a car commuter, "one of them". I'm unworthy of this blog and the title that it carries. I'm trying to change my ways, but I've become a car commuter with an excuse for every situation. I'm ashamed.

To make matters worse, as we look at houses I have been considering a permanent motorized commute. My wife and I have both dreamed of a house with a little land where we could have chickens, maybe a goat and a large garden that would provide much of our family's food. We can afford the house and land in the area, but it would be 20-25 miles from my work. If I'm going to have a garden, chickens, a goat and still see my family, I can't commute 3-4 hours a day by bike.

20-25 miles on a motorcycle or in an economy car could allow us to have our little piece of land that we've wanted. Then there's the thing with sprawl. I've taken urban planning and I understand principles of development and land management. Moving a little out of town for lower house prices and more room has been the downfall of MANY big cities in the US. I'm looking to be "one of them", part of the problem that I recognize and that is so preventable.

There are some smaller communities around here where we may be able to find a house on a little land that is within walking distance to what we need, within riding distance to work and still within our price range. My fear is that it will take four years to find that house and prices will have gone back up and interest rates will be approaching 10% so that we can't afford anything (I don't really think that housing prices or interest rates will go up that fast, but anything is possible in this economic climate).

I'm torn between what I really believe to be the way the world should be and what I want. Someone once asked me how I don't want things. I think that will be my next post. Either that or I'll find some pictures to post. I've been intending to do that for some time now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The environmental movement

I was walking through Krogers today (for you Westerners, that's a grocery store) and I saw a lady with a shopping cart containing about a dozen reusable grocery bags. I was excited and nearly invited her to be my friend on the spot, but figured that would be weird since we hadn't ever spoken.

Anyway, we ended up being on a similar route through the store, so we crossed paths many times. While I was excited by her evident understanding for the need to reduce the number of plastic bags entering landfills, I was disappointed by what she was putting in her cart.

While she probably didn't use a single plastic bag, I watched her put a box of Capri Sun in her cart. That was a plastic wrap surrounding a cardboard container that housed a half dozen disposable drink containers (along with the disposable straw that I can never get through that hole). Somewhere, I think she missed the point of the reusable bags in her cart.

The point is to minimize waste. Waste doesn't only come from plastic grocery bags.

I don't want this to come off the wrong way. I'm sure that she was a wonderful woman who had great intentions and may have even had a special occassion that necessitated Capri Sun. I know that we didn't take our reusable bags because we are out of garbage bags, so we reuse grocery bags for the purpose. Am I a hipocrite? Sure, but the point that I'm trying to make is that we can take far more action than the popular actions.

I hope to start posting a little more soon, but I've got a struggle. You see, I am struggling to ride to work regularly. First off, it's a long ways and the beginning of the year in a fitness field is a busy time. It's especially busy when you're new to the position, so I haven't quite settled into normal hours yet.

The problem is that I have a blog that goes by the title, "Sans Auto" meaning without car. I have always had a car, but I could say that I was without a car because my wife used it 90% of the time while I found other ways. Now, with the weather being cold and snowy and the route being long, unfamiliar and dark, I drive far more than I would like to. As we look for a house to buy, a reasonable bike commute is important. I think my next post will be about what we're looking for in our next house.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Small town

We have safely arrived in Kentucky. I love my new job and all is well. The thing I'm most excited to post is a picture from my commute, it is spectacular. I haven't taken a camera along for the ride, so instead I'm going to post about a town in Wyoming.

We opted to take I-80 out of SLC because I-70 was getting hammered with a snow storm. It turned out to be an excellent decision. The weather was really pretty good as soon as we got out of Utah.

Of course everyone knows that weather is sort of a weird word to use for what happens in Wyoming. Sure, it snows and rains in Wyoming, but that is really seldom. I'd say that 90% of Wyoming's weather is wind. Is wind weather? Yes, but it's different.

We got out of the snow of Utah and got into the wind of Wyoming. Wind shouldn't influence driving conditions, but in Wyoming it does. As everyone knows, it only snows once year in Wyoming, the rest of the year it just blows the snow from one side of the state to the other.

So we were driving along and it was approaching white-out conditions due to the wind in Wyoming. I was driving the monstrosity truck and my wife was following in the minivan with the boys. I couldn't see much, so I decided to stop at the next exit. (My wife could see fine, she was just following an enormous yellow truck).

We pulled into a gas station in Elk Mountain Wyoming. We asked when the wind would die down so it would be easier to see. They said April. We hung out for about a half hour and ate lunch while we wandered around a really small dingy gas station.

There are about 150 people in Elk Mountain and 800 or so in another small town that wasn't too far away. Evidently there was a mine nearby and then the stores that supported the small mining town. Oh and the guys who plowed the roads, they also lived in these towns.

While there, I was able to overhear some conversation of the towns folk. The guy who plows the local roads came in and was talking about the job he had just applied for (you know, the only job opening in town). He had heard that 25 other people had applied for the job. He proceeded to name them and consider their qualifications one at a time. Some of the applicants evidently lived too far away and would have to move if they were given the job. The conversation then turned to where the new employee would live, if hired since there was just one place in the area that was available for rent, and that was up for argument.

As these guys talked I wondered about the small town life. It sure seems like you wouldn't have any privacy. Everyone seems to know everything about the rest of the town. I thought more about it and all these people are still here. Sure, it's economically difficult to move, but if it's that bad, there is a way to get out. And people don't seem to leave those small towns.

I think that it could be nice to live in a really small town. It could be a tight knit community where everyone is your friend. I think people like it. Knowing everyone around you could really offer some comfort. We're not moving to a small town anytime soon, but I think it has the potential of being a good thing.