There are a lot of things in life that are bigger than I am. Celestial bodies, the oceans, Dancing With The Stars, Scottish terriers, etc… But, another thing that’s bigger than me is the NPO, an organization where people use their talents and skills to make a better world instead of more of those little numbers that represent their personal money. It’s no secret that I harbor a deep love for NPOs (I did partner with one and have mused about starting my own for ages, after all), and it should further be no secret that my favorite one in town has been EclecticPond Theatre Company. After all, I’ve been working with them for two seasons now, have shot for six productions and scheduling shoots for a seventh, and even helped them redesign their website.
So, it just makes sense at this point that I’ve talked with their creative director, and their board has voted to accept my motion to join them as a full member, rather than an associate. So, as of, well, technically this past Sunday but more officially yesterday I am now officially part of their marketing team, with aims to handle the photography and graphic design portions of things, as well as helping with their social branding and website as needed. And, have to say, I’m excited to be a part of something like this, something bigger than myself. Look for more stuff soon as I finish up my associate-style work on their production of Much Ado About Nothing, and even more once I get up to speed in my capacity for their next season when it starts.
So, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve been working with the lovely Bernhard Thielen of Fourspot Project (who makes the WP Google Reader app NewsSpot that I’ve helped with graphics work on) to make an app for Zed Martinez. Since I’m a big advocate of Windows Phone, and since he’s a WP dev, it’s so far just for this platform (which I know most of you don’t use), but I’ve had the most recent beta for a couple days now, and I have to say it’s going to be a gorgeous thing. Partly this is because Windows Phone with the paradigm-formerly-known-as-metro makes it easy to make things look good, and partly it’s because the clean, whitespace-heavy design of WP apps works well with the style I’ve always used for this site. And it doesn’t hurt that Bernhard has been working hard to make it chock full of awesome features. When done, the app will support viewing blog posts, viewing and adding comments to posts, viewing galleries in a native viewer (with pinch/push zoom mechanics), the ability to view images from my Google Plus stream, links to contact and interact with me, and even a collection of wallpapers I made specially to look awesome on Windows Phone’s lockscreen. As well as a bunch of WP-specific things, like fast resume, live tiles for both the main app as well as for specific galleries, and other goodies. it’s going to be awesome, and should support all major versions of WP once we get it done.
After that, I’ll see how I feel about getting it made for you Android/iOS people out there (if you’re an iOS/Android dev who’d be willing to cut a poor artist a hot deal, let me know). But I gotta say, I can’t imagine anything for them looking as sexy as this:
Look y’all, it’s my ugly mug in moving picture form, with those talkie “words” as well. Once you get past hat derp face of a still pull and the fact that you’re listening to me prattle on like a nonce, it’s pretty all right I think. Thanks go to the folks at Raw Artists Indianapolis for cutting this together.
First MEA, now RAWartists. Just what is it with me and throwing in with organizations focused on promoting up-and-coming artists in their local markets through monthly events and showings? Oh right! That’s been one of the big things I’ve been wanting to help encourage ever since I walked out of college. How’d I go and forget a piddling thing like that?
Anyway, after signing up to be a part of the Holiday Rawk exhibition on December 6th here in Indianapolis, I am now apparently an official RAW artist, or something. I have a profile. (Profiles are like towers, having one makes you a Very Important Man.) You can see my profile thingy here, but more importantly you should go over to the Holiday Rawk event page and buy a ticket for all of $10 and tell them you’re supporting me, so they don’t kick me out of the club or something. That’d be, in this case, quite a bummer. That is all.
Bottle cage, tool bag, frame pump, New York Noose, teacup bell, MiNewt 350, Planet Bike Superflash stealth, Brooks B17 Aged saddle, and custom orange rims. Check.
Now, I just need one of those Soma Sparrow bars, a mirror, and a tub of squeal remover for the front disc and this Town will be perfect.
To anyone who’s wondering, I am still sadly not back in the studio yet. I’m continuing to take the spring off so far and catch up on this “life” thing that I hear is out there for people who aren’t quite so workaholic as I am. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been up to anything, so, for those curious, here’s the score right now:
I’ve now got about 342 miles in on the new bike, according to my tracking app. Commuted 14 of the past 16 commutes (the two I missed were because of rain and waiting on my rain gear to arrive, which it now has.) In general, I think the roads seem to be a bit bike-friendlier so far this year than last year. Fewer instances of getting yelled at to get off the road. I think it’s probably the increased presence of bike lanes. While most of them are still horribly ill-conceived, disappearing at regular intervals and dumping bikes back into the lane just in time for most intersections, they do at least provide a mental space where drivers recognize bikes as “belonging,” while simultaneously getting them used to bikes being in the lane at random intervals. So, it could be worse. Same-lane passing, however, is still a problem here in the Circle City. But, I suspect it always will be.
Currently, I’m (finally) reading Neil Gaiman’s legendary American Gods. The Kindle says I’m only 39% done, so, I’ll reserve any serious comments on it until I’m done, but so far it has a lot in it that’s reminiscent of–though not copying–Vonnegut and Murakami. Not exactly hurting my feelings. Also, I suspect I’m going to have a lot of reading on mythology to do afterwards to fully wrap my head around it, but I’ve resolved to not do any until afterwards, so I can experience the book with the same general lack of knowledge of these characters as the text seems to expect.
Meanwhile, I’ve finished rewatching the anime Black Lagoon, based on the manga of the same title, and am now watching the more recent OVA continuation of it. Despite its heavy reliance on the “chicks with guns” genre and the scantily-clad and profane Revy for marketing, I continue to be really pleased with how down-to-earth a lot of the plots end up being, despite the expected anime flourishes. I’m still especially fascinated with the weird not-quite-noir not-quite-existential philosophical musings it dips into while executing it’s rather Tarantino/pulp-inspired stories. If you’ve not watched it yourself, I’d recommend it pretty highly. I’ve seen the original run in both subbed and dubbed version, and honestly, the dubbed is pretty stellar, if the language-barrier is usually a negative for you.
I will likely add the manga to my reading after I finish the OVA.
What? You think maybe I’d just take the summer off of my infamous thousand projects completely? Pish. I can’t say much about my miscellaneous projects right now until they get a bit more complete, but I’m helping my good friends at EclecticPond with a website redesign, helping an educator of teachers for young children set-up a site aimed at giving that same information to curious parents, and I’m going to continue work soon enough on the InQode project which seeks to change forever how you think about and use QR scan codes (you can try the functioning beta now here).
So there you go, a quick check-up until I get back to more exciting things. Which, you didn’t hear from me, might resume as soon as next week… Stay tuned.
So, as I mentioned recently, I’m trying to switch to using my bike as a primary vehicle. And one of the reasons people will tell you for doing so is to save money, which always seemed to me to be a bit bunk, since most of the cost of a car is owning it at all and keeping it insured. So, I made a quick little calculator to compare the two on a maintenance and upkeep basis. The calculator asks for your commute schedule as you’ve been doing it by car, and then asks how many of those days you’d like to bike instead. Just punch everything in and it’ll spit out estimates of your cost per mile, per commute, per week, and per year, your savings for the same, and as a bonus can tell you how long it’ll take you to pay yourself back for the bike.
If you want to play with it, you can do so here: http://zedmartinez.com/calculate-your-commute/
So, some of you may remember last year I had an experiment in commuting by bike instead of car. I live, of course, in Indianapolis, which isn’t exactly the most bike friendly city in the world, but where most of my car usage was weighing in at around 2-12 miles in any direction. I’d biked to college for the first three years (the fourth year saw me hauling too many portfolio pieces and canvases for the bike to be practical at all), and I found myself thinking about taking that back up. With the advice of my manager, a bike commuter himself, I looked into a more modern, and task-appropriate, hybrid bike instead of the mountain bikes I’d grown up with, and I set to it. I got what was for me the most expensive bike I’d ever bought, but which I learned along the way was actually a rolling conglomeration of low-end parts and cut-rate bearings that were formed together in the shape of a bike. But, this was a big commitment, and a proper bike-as-a-vehicle investment would only make sense if I stuck with things, so, I decided to start with something low-end to see if I would keep at it before making such a large investment in a whim.
The Not-Schwinn Trailway, Affectionately Dubbed "Your Mom"
What I learned is, in fair weather I loved it. It only took about ten more minutes for me to bike to the office instead of drive, thanks to the nature of traffic on the way in. Local errands were sometimes a bit slower, but came with the benefit of being able to skip the treadmill at the gym. And I decided that this year I’d put the deniro into a proper bike-as-a-vehicle ride. And some rain and snow gear, so that when I woke up and it was wet and cold I wouldn’t just throw in the towel and pick up the car keys. I was going to take this seriously, darn it.
And so, in the next few weeks I’m going to finish putting together my new bike v1.0, Bikesworth “Townie” Townsington. Or, as his friends call him, “The Town.”
I say version 1 because down the road I’m going to swap out some stuff based on experience on the bike, and a desperate need to save some money back up after dropping the scratch for the bike itself.
So. The bike. I knew I wanted a 700c hybrid commuter. I’m still not a fan of those hipster fixies that are scooting around everywhere. It’s mostly an aesthetic thing. They’re just not my style. And mountain bikes just flat out suck for commuting. My mountain bike in college was a labor a chore. Even my cheap-o not-Schwinn 700c made getting out on the road so much easier and enjoyable. So a 700c hybrid (half road, half mountain) was my meal ticket. I knew that if I could find steel that’d be nice, because it absorbs bumps better, but that’s a pretty niche market reserved mostly for fixies, so it wasn’t a high priority. Racks and fenders were. I’d added them to the cheapie, and they worked OK, but gave it a bit of Franken-bike aesthetic. I wanted something a bit more “designed,” and to not have to add the cost of those items to my odds-and-ends shopping list. I also considered disc brakes a plus, but not a deal-breaker, and waffled a bit on internal gear hubs, but settled on the versatility and cost-savings of a traditional cassette instead.
In the end, I ordered a Felt Verza City 2. It was well-specced: good, solid mid-end components with no fluff that I wasn’t going to need for commuting. It was beautiful, with a very European flare missing from most American hybrids. And, it was at the high end of my budget, but not unreasonable. For something I was going to try and use as my primary vehicle and work-horse, it was the right mix of everything.
As with all things, I strive to strike a balance between function and appearance. Despite being the sort of dude who asked people to get naked and wear a giant plaster chicken skull mask, I do like a bit of elegance to my stuff. So long as it doesn’t impede functionality, anyway. If it’s elegant exactly because it’s functional, so much the better. So, I set out to update all the essentials (which I had also stuck to cheap on): front light, rear blinky, bottle cage, saddle bag, bell, and panniers. OK, so, the bell isn’t quite an essential, but it’s technically in Indiana law any bike on the road has to have one, so, in the spirit of this being a vehicle and not a toy, a bell it was. And I lucked out when Megan found men apprently-rare Dimension coffee cup bell without the tacky “COFFEE” screen-printed on it. A Niterider Minewt 350 cordless (on amazing sale at my local shop at the time) won out as the affordable choice for biking on unlit city streets (although if I ever move the country the 600 might see some of my love), and Planet Bike’s super-shiny clear half-watt blinky was the pick for the rear illumination. Top pick for the bottle cage was Velo-Orange’s elegant Moderniste, but since stock on it is harder to find than a Republican who doesn’t hate women, I settled for the very-knockoff Delta Inox one. I needed a new saddle-mounted bag to hold the emergency kit (tools, spare tire, tire levers, gauge), and for the time being I’ll have to settle for the rather-affordable retro-styled Electra Cylinder. My old cheap Schwinn frame pump isn’t the fanciest ever, put it shoves air if I get a flat, so it got to move on to the new ride, and for the time being my giganormous Mwave Day Tripper panniers get to move over as well.
And, while Indianapolis is no New York City (or San Fran, or Portland, or even Ball State University’s campus), I do believe in practicing good security methods with my stuff, so, I’ve invested in some new locks and tools for the first time since I was in high school. Not trusting cables, and finding u-locks too limited in flexibility, I’ve always rather been a chain guy. To that end, Kryptonite’s New York Noose is the right compromise between size and weight and flexibility, and is also reputedly one of the hardest lock solutions to crack on the market. In an easy-theft city like Indy, that’ll be more than adequate. Combined with a beater u-lock and replacing all my quick releases with OnGuard’s locking spindle system to prevent disappearing seats and wheels, and this ought to be a good start for there being a way home for me left at the end of the day.
So, the future. It’s only version 1.0, right? Right. I’ve got plans to make this the sweetest little townie bike in this damn city. Depending on how I find the ride with the current flat bars, I’ll either just add some Origin8 drop-ends and bar-ends near the clamp for extra hand-holds, or maybe replace the whole bar with a Soma Sparrow for a more touring-style bar that’ll let me keep my MTB shifters and brake levers.
The saddle bag I want to be an actual leather one, of the type that the Electra is imitating. Call me old-fashioned. Zimbale makes a really nice looking one with some size to it, so, that’s on the list. And, while the Mwave panniers get the job done, they take up a lot of space when they aren’t in use, and they’re not often just left on the bike as a result. The obvious solution is a good pair of waxed canvas ones that I can roll up, and Laplander makes just such a thing that also comes with a cinch-string nylon lining, unlike the Brooks. The problem is, being hand-made by a small family business, they don’t run cheap. But they oughtta last forever, for sure.
And, what else? A Brooks saddle? Maybe. A pair of amber spoke lights from ThinkGeek? Almost certainly. And from there… we’ll see. Like anything, my desires and projections might change with use and need. But, either way, it oughtta be one hella fun ride on The Town.
Best Valentine’s Day gift ever? Classic Lion-o and Mumm-ra. Go ahead. Try and tell me otherwise.
Sorry I’ve been quiet of late, everybody. Still catching up in life after the whole Oranje thing. There’ll be more work soon, but, in the meanwhile, here are some badass photos from a session I had with local photo dynamo Jennifer Spurgin (nee Jennifer Parker) recently. You can tell she’s good, because I actually look like a people person in them.
Also, the Central Branch library here in Indianapolis is an absolutely gorgeous choice of location, amirite?