Goodbye Fall

Today's weather seems to indicate that fall's on its way out and that winter is approaching the District. I have to say... I'm not sure if I'm ready for snow boots and sub-freezing temperatures. Here's a last glimpse of fall I spotted last weekend on a hike in Great Falls, MD.


Banjo . Farmer

I stopped by Eastern Market in DC last weekend and met a banjo playing farmer named Tyler. Tyler and Heather Caudle own Wisteria Gardens in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Their delicious produce is the product of farming without using harmful pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. This photo typifies a normal scene at the Wisteria Gardens stand at Eastern Market.


New in 20009...

No I did not accidentally type an extra zero in this title. 20009 means I'm officially a new resident of a new zip code! Though I'll miss the people with whom I spent such great times up in New England, it was time for a new change of scenery and a career redirection. So, two weeks ago I relocated from Cambridge, MA to our nation's capital...

(This poster is from www.orkposters.com. I have this one... I love it and I love this designer!)

Now here's the thing... I have never lived alone. I've always had (awesome) roommates, and before roommates I shared a place with two parents, a sister, and a dog. So needless to say, some things have been new to me. For instance, I'm not familiar with being able to see every square inch of my apartment in one quick scan (it's a tiny studio). I'm not used to cooking on a stove that resembles an Easy Bake Oven. I'm also not accustomed to locking myself into a room for an evening, waking up to the voice of Liam Gallagher as he screams "...and so Sally can wait" at 6:30am from the stereo of my courteous neighbor, or staring at my plants due to the absence of a television. Yeah, it's been a bit of an adjustment. Though this picture I paint might not seem so great, to be completely fair I have (for the most part) really enjoyed this new lifestyle!

My first order of business when moving in to my new studio was to go all Ty Pennington on the joint and then do what I love to do... snap some photos of it!

Here's the before...

... and the after!

The key to this layout was to hide my bed behind my book shelves. My top priority with this place was to not feel like my entire studio was a bedroom. When you have that kind of setup, it is extremely hard to have guests over and have them and you feel comfortable in the space. The bookshelves did a great job dividing the room leaving a private sleeping nook and a well defined living room. My favorite part of this apartment is my MANtastic new leather couch and the image hanging above it. You might recognize it from a previous post! Here's the view from the couch.

The windows on the left of this photo bring in great light for the entire space. Without 5 foot windows, I think the apartment would feel really dark and cavernous.

Thanks for checking out my new digs and drop me a line if you like what you see. Now that my life is settling down into a routine I hope to post more photos of my adventures in the weeks to come.

Thanks for stopping by!


My Single Speed Project... Complete!

During my months of pretirement, I've operated with the almost daily goal of trying something new. That attitude guided my (ill advised) decision to take apart my 21 speed road bike back in May with the aim of turning it into a single speed bike. Though in all honesty I had no idea what I was getting myself into, I'm proud to introduce you to the final product... my new self-assembled single speed road bike.

The bike is constructed from an old early '80s vintage Univega frame and most parts are recycled as they were stripped off my old bike.

You may be wondering why I wanted to do this and why someone would want to reduce their ride from 21 shiftable speeds to 1 fixed speed. To answer the latter part of that question, many bike purists consider a single speed road bike to be the most efficient way to get around town. I won't get into too much technical detail, but when all the extras are removed from a bike (gear shifters, derailers, extra cogs, and a longer chain) you're left with a streamlined and much lighter ride. If this interests you, read this article by Sheldon Brown that initially piqued my interest.

I'm not sure I have a definitive answer to the former part of the question. I guess my desire to make my own single speed came from a bunch of different motivations. On a purely aesthetic level, I think single speeds look amazing. Their uncomplicated and streamlined and pretty much non-technological compared to modern bikes. And though I hate to admit it, single speeds and fixies are a staple in hipster culture... and deep down there's a little bit of hipster in me. On another level, I just wanted a new project.

To complete this project, I've been walking into Cambridge bike shops for around 2 months asking very stupid questions about bikes in an effort to get free advice. Later I would go home and try out what I've been told. Most of the bike shops' hipster workers have treated me like a complete idiot. Here's a typical transaction.

Kevin: "Hi, um I'm looking for one of those, uhh you know bolt things that attaches to the pedal arms???"
Hipster Bike Shop Worker: "Haaa pedal arms? Um do you mean a bottom bracket?"
Kevin: "Sure?"
HBSW: "(Long annoyed sigh) Ok... yeah well I don't know what you need, so you should just bring your bike by and we'll do it for you. BTW, rad Celtics t-shirt. Is that vintage?"
Kevin: It's TJ-Maxx.

I was almost ready to give up on local bike shops until I met Tyler at Paramount Bicycle in Somerville, MA. On a rainy Tuesday in July I walked into Tyler's shop only to find a guy sitting in the back of an empty store drinking what seemed to be his 7th High Life. Literally the first thing out of the guy's mouth... "Damn you're a little &%@$# like me... you probably have a $#@&@ huge Napolean Complex like me." This was no normal bike shop.

Despite his explicit crudeness, Tyler was the first guy in the area that treated me like an adult. After going through the normal litany of bad questions about bikes, Tyler offered his shop, expertise, and tools to me... free of charge. For two days, I worked in the back of his shop while he barked orders to me about what I needed to do next to my bike. When I cut my finger and asked for a band aide, he called me a pansy (censored) and threw me a greasy towel and a beer. When I nearly stripped one of his allen wrenches, he threatened to shoot me with his taser... seriously he had a taser in his shop and he pointed it at me.

Though this may sound like a rough experience, I was oddly at ease with this guy and his generosity was unmatched. I recommend him to anyone... he really, really knows his stuff. If you'd like more of a review on Tyler, check out his Yelp.com reviews here. Specifically, read Ricardo A's review. His take on Tyler is priceless and dead on.

Had to throw in some Lititz, PAride on my bike. This is a bumper sticker celebrating Lititz's 2009 inclusion in the Dozen Distinctive Destinations.
I hope you enjoyed my rambling recanting of bike project as well as the photos I took outside my apartment. I'm extremely happy with the end result and can't wait to zip around town on it. As usual, I'd love to hear from you if you enjoyed this post.


Featured on the Boston Globe Website

Today brought some great news. A photoessay that I put together for the Boston Globe went live on Boston.com this morning. The story features a quick blog about the project that I undertook in Guadalajara with a corresponding photoessay of 12 photos.

Above is a screen shot of the Boston.com page that features my work. Please click HERE to visit the site and check it out. I'm really excited about the exposure that this development will bring to the organization that I worked for in Guadalajara. Feel free to drop me a line if you like what you see!

Thanks also to the great people at Truth With A Camera for picking up the blog. Above is a screen shot from the Truth With A Camera Workshop Blog.