Temples enshrine the psychedelic era…and more

Temples_-_Sun_Structures - wiki

“Sun Structures” – Source: en.wikipedia.org

I discovered Temples listening to Impact 89fm – Michigan State University’s student radio station when they played the richly 1960’esque “Shelter Song.” As the first track on their debut full-length album, Sun Structures, the song aptly introduces Temples and a whole new generation to the amazing guitar riffs and rhythms of great bands like The Byrds, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, early Led Zeppelin, the Moody Blues, and even in one song reminiscent of Heart. While this may sound like sincere flattery and a case of imitation, Sun Structures is also refreshing in its own right – for one it’s a hell of a lot better than most music being released today. It also exudes mesmerizing guitars.  Some may claim guitar rock is dying and/or dead – it sure isn’t when you listen to this album!

The great classic psychedelic rock sounds emanating from Sun Structures evoke memories of songs we Baby Boomers cut our teeth on and is far more enjoyable to listen to than the bass-thumping headaches of rap, the bubble gum schlock of modern pop, or the overtly corporatize and partisan blather of most modern country music.

For a band that formed just two years ago, Temples are a polished, poised, and immensely talented foursome from Kettering, England. So much so, that in 2014 they have already played SXSW, Coachella, and Glastonbury, with Lollapalooza next on their plate.

Sun Structures is my favorite new album to date in 2014 (Beck a close second). It contains 12 songs spread over 53 minutes – a welcome length compared to so many recorded sprint sessions. Of the dozen formidable tracks, my favorites include:

  • “Shelter Song”
  • “Keep in the Dark”
  • “Sun Structures”
  • “Mesmerise”
  • “A Question Isn’t Answered”
  • “Move with the Season” – a guitar riff eerily similar to “Love Alive” by Heart
  • “The Golden Throne”
  • “Sand Dance” – reminds me of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
Who's Next - Source: en.wkipedia.org

“Who’s next” – Source: en.wkipedia.org

Lastly, I have got to say something about the album cover. Not only is it an uncanny reminder of Who’s next, but it is one of the coolest covers I have ever seen from an architectural and historical standpoint. According to the band’s interview on KEXP radio, Rushton’s Triangular Lodge, shown on the cover, is an historic structure built in 1593. Wow! – the building alone is worth a visit for architectural and historical junkies. Given its placement on this debut album, its place in British history has been secured for many centuries to come.

Utility infrastructure does not have to be ugly

This electrical substation in suburban Chicago (Elk Grove Village) is an excellent example of how, with a little effort, utility infrastructure can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and blend well with its surroundings. Well done!

a3aef32a-d48a-11e3-ba92-22000a9ab58d-medium

 

DC’s stunning Chinatown friendship gate

0601140956One of my favorite activities while traveling is to make an effort to see the Chinatown friendship gates in cities that I visit. Among those I have personally observed are the friendship gates in Boston, Chicago, Sacramento, and San Francisco. From a human scale, Boston’s is hard to beat and San Francisco’s is certainly iconic, but the gate in Washington, DC’s Chinatown (just east of the intersection of H & 7th Streets) is simply stunning for its overall beauty, size, and artistic intricacy.

0601140958 (2)

Walking out of the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station, the friendship gate immediately captures your attention and holds it tight. It is quite an impressive visual treat. Next time you happen to be visiting our Nation’s capital, hop on the Metro and stop to take a look at the city’s Chinatown friendship gate – it’s worth the trip! Cheers!

0601140954 (2)

 

Going sky-high and energy wise in Jakarta

Source: asce.org

Source: asce.org

The impressive 99 story Pertamina Tower in Jakarta, Indonesia will not only be super tall at 530 meters (or 1,744 feet) when it is completed in 2020, but it is designed to be a net-zero energy user. Wind turbines in the V-shaped pistachio-shaped void between the building facades at the top quarter of the tower will supply energy to the skyscraper.

 

 

 

 

A new era to begin!

As many readers of Panethos have probably noticed, a number of recent blog posts have dealt with bicycling issues. As my love for bike riding has grown, so has my interest in stories related to topics surrounding the bicycling culture. As a result, I happy to announce have started a separate spin-off blog on WordPress.com entitled “Bicycle Trax.” I hope it will delve into anything and everything about bicycles and the bicycle culture. Bicycle-related posts from Panethos will be copied/transferred there for continuity and as a database.

This does NOT mean an end to Panethos, but it will likely mean less frequent posts cluttering your mailbox. I’ll just have to play it by ear and see how it goes.

If you enjoy reading my bicycling-related posts, please consider signing up to receive “Bicycle Trax.” I hope to see you there and look forward to continued communications via Panethos. Let’s have some fun!

Cheers!

 

States that most (or least) like bikes

Source: bikeleague.org/content/ranking

Source: bikeleague.org/content/ranking

The lists (above and below) show the League of American Bicyclist’s 2014 state rankings for bike friendliness. Congrats to those states that made the top 10, which are shown in bold. Those states ranked near, but not in the top 10 have something to aspire to, while those in the in positions 26 through 50 have their work cut out for them.

You can review each state’s 2014 report card on the League’s website.

1. Washington

2. Minnesota

3. Wisconsin

4. Delaware

5. Oregon

6. Colorado

7. Maryland

8. Utah

9. California

10. Massachusetts

11. Illinois

12. New Jersey

13. Maine

14. Michigan

15. Arizona

16. Ohio

17. Vermont

18. Virginia

19. Pennsylvania

20. Idaho

21. Connecticut

22. Tennessee

23. North Carolina

24. New Hampshire

25. Iowa

26. Georgia

27. Rhode Island

28. Florida

29. New York

30. Nevada

31. Mississippi

32. Louisiana

33. Texas

34. Missouri

35. North Dakota

36. Wyoming

37. Indiana

38. Arkansas

39. South Dakota

40. Hawaii

41. New Mexico

42. Oklahoma

43. Alaska

44. West Virginia

45. Nebraska

46. Kansas

47. South Carolina

48. Kentucky

49. Montana

50. Alabama

Here’s a link to a fascinating chart that shows ranking for each years since 2008.

Leading “Tree Campus USA” states

Source: unl.edu

Source: unl.edu

In honour of Arbor Day 2014 (tomorrow, Friday, April 25th), I thought it would be interesting to highlight the Tree Campus USA program conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation. Started in 2008 and similar to Tree City USA, this program recognizes those collegiate campuses who protect, maintain, and grow their tree infrastructure. The University of Michigan was the first designated Tree Campus in the United States. Six years later, more than 190 schools participate in this worthwhile program.

There are five standards required for being designated a Tree Campus:

  1. Campus Tree Advisory Committee
  2. Campus Tree Care Plan
  3. Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
  4. Arbor Day Observance
  5. Service Learning Project

The list below shows the states with at least four college campuses participating in the program. Congratulations to Illinois, New York, Ohio for leading the pack. Sadly, while home to the first university to be designated as a Tree Campus, Michigan only has three participating schools – Calvin College, University of Michigan, and Western Michigan University.

  • Illinois = 14
  • New York = 13
  • Ohio =11
  • Georgia = 9
  • Pennsylvania = 9
  • Texas = 9
  • Florida = 8
  • Indiana = 8
  • California = 7
  • Nebraska = 7
  • Minnesota = 6
  • North Carolina = 6
  • Oklahoma = 6
  • South Carolina = 6
  • Iowa = 5
  • Kentucky =5
  • Louisiana = 5
  • Missouri = 5
  • Colorado = 4
  • Washington = 4
  • Wisconsin = 4

Source: www.arborday.org

Book review of “Pedaling Revolution”

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

I have just wrapped up reading the fine book, Pedaling Revolution, by author Jeff Mapes. The subtitle of How Cyclists are Changing American Cities best describes the premise of his book, as Mr. Mapes thoughtfully explores the promises and pitfalls cycling advocacy in America. As an avid cycling proponent myself, I can certainly relate to many of the issues he describes. Even though the book was published approximately five years ago, it is largely up to date on the state of affairs in cycling and presents an interesting history of cycling and the bike culture; cycling advocacy in Europe (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and London); cycling advocacy efforts in the United States; as well as specific advocacy efforts in iconic cycling cities like Davis, Madison, Portland, New York City, Boulder, Eugene, and Chicago.

I greatly enjoyed reading Pedaling Revolution and it will certainly be an important part of my bicycling advocate library. Here are a few dandy quotes gleaned from the book for your enjoyment:

  • “…very little is said about the huge subsides received by motorists that far outweigh any freebies received by cyclists. The largest is free–or cheap—parking.” (page 19)
  • “For all the ire directed at urban cyclists, most people do have a fondness for bikes themselves.” (page 20)
  • “We were, it seems, the last generation of children who headed out into the neighborhood with no more guidance than to be home by dinner.” (page 31)
  • “…just as war is too important to be left to generals, so highways are too important to be left to highway engineers.” (page 48)
  • “…suburban sit-coms like ‘The Brady Bunch’ were replaced by shows like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends,’ which celebrated city living.” (page 50)
  • “If you’re the kind of cyclist used to riding in American cities, it doesn’t take long for Amsterdam’s bike magic to wash over you. Here you feel like part of the majority, not an oddball.” ( page 63)
  • “Amsterdam had to be the quietest big city I’d ever visited.” ( page 76)
  • “Critical Mass is kind of an anarchical ride for all.” (page 104)
  • “One of the spiels I give is about slowing down. We think we have to cram our lives full, 24-7, but there’s something about giving yourself some extra time. I realized that nobody would think it remarkable if he went to a gym for forty-five minutes every morning and then rushed downtown in a car. Yet doing an eighteen-mile commute through suburbia is weird.” (page 113)
  • “Somehow, in Portland at least, bicyclists have become part of that great American melting pot.” (page 168)
  • “Sometimes we have to use cars, but that does not mean they have to dominate our lives. Instead it should be dominated by human interactions…” (page 179)
  • In America, we spend more on dental research than traffic safety research.” (page 208)

The last quote is quite shocking and should stand as a clear wake-up call that our priorities are bass ackwards.

  • “Unfortunately, walking to the far end of a shopping center is about as much exercise as too many people are getting in modern America, which seems to be on an extended “Super Size Me” experiment.” (page 229)
  • “She has decidely moved from the sedentary majority to the active minority.” (page 241)
  • “…sometimes I feel like the hardest part about using my bike to get around town is the comments I get from people who think I’m just plain weird for doing so.” (page 244)

Amen to that last quote, brother.

Two less cars!

0419141724aOne of my favorite bicycle advocacy catch phrases is “One less car!” In celebration of this worthy and sustainable effort, Kathy and I spent yesterday (Saturday) accomplishing all our errands on our bicycles. Between us, we totaled more than 27 miles of travel on our bicycles, riding to places like the florist, Kohl’s, the bank, my apartment, her house, Douglas J, the Trek store, and other businesses in the area.

Source: pioneerpress.com

Source: pioneerpress.com

All in all, it was a very rewarding experience that we intend to duplicate over and over again, thus removing our two cars from the local roadways on those days where we ride about town instead of driving. Combined with our regular bike commuting to/from work, we are hoping to eventually limit our car usage solely to longer trips, inclement weather (particularly in winter) or travel-related purposes.

Source: zazzle.com

Source: zazzle.com

Considering 50 percent of all trips are three miles or less in length, just imagine the positive impacts that could occur if each and every one of us dedicated just one day per week or one day per month to run all our errands by bicycle…or by transit…or by foot. Such an act would lower our individual and collective carbon footprint, improve our health, reduce congestion, demonstrate sustainability to others, and serve as a positive reminder that not all transportation must be done by the almighty automobile. Will you join us?

Hey, Kohl’s – how about a bike rack?

unnamedRode my new Trek Allant to the local Kohl’s store this morning. I ended up parking and locking it inside the vestibule, as there are no bike racks and not even any signs near the entrance to park my bike safely. Of course they have cigarette disposal units near each entrance for the unhealthy set, and they kept broadcasting how green and environmentally conscious they are on their intercom system, but not a single bike rack to be found. Only acres of asphalt and concrete.

I have been trying to persuade the store to add bike racks ever since it opened approximately 8-10 years ago.  I have spoken to staff, written emails, and left customer comment cards – so far without any success. This despite the documented evidence showing bicycling is good for business.

So here’s my new tactic – broadcasting how much I spent in their store as a bike riding customer in hopes to shame them into action. So Kohl’s – I spent $140.00 at your store this morning – do you think you could afford a bike rack or two now?