Saturday, May 29, 2010

Biking into DC

I had taken this approximate route as far as Peirce Mill in Rock Creek Park before. This time, I decided to keep going and hop on the Metro when I was done. I took the path as far as the Potomac, and I was prepared to finish at the Foggy Bottom Metro. But, hey, I was in DC by the monuments, why not ride around? So I headed up Constitution, past everybody who had gotten into town early for Rolling Thunder, and then to the Archives/Navy Memorial Station. That allowed more sight-seeing, a delicious frozen mango treat, and a straight shot home on the Green Line. A version of this trip is also available at Everytrail.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bike to Work Day

Yesterday was Bike to Work Day, and I achieved a goal I've had for the past year of actually biking to work.  I ended up biking 20 miles in about 2.5 hours.  If you don't count the stops, I averaged 9.5 mph, which is pretty good.

(Note: a version of this post with cooler maps is available at the Everytrail site.  I am, however, trying to make sure that I have versions of things I carry about on my blog, since Blogger makes it easy for me to download a backup of my entire blog.  With other sites (I'm looking at you, Facebook), I feel like my history is out of my control.)

I left home around 7:30 and swung by the College Park Bike to Work pit stop.  I got my free t-shirt, and I won some arm warmers in a raffle.  Well, I won a choice of items, and I already had the other items.  I think there's a reason I didn't already have arm warmers -- it's called a long-sleeved shirt.  I munched on a free bagel, and then I had the guy from REI check out my bike (it was fine) while I digested the bagel.

I cut back to the Trolley Trail to Paint Branch Parkway, which became Good Luck Road.  I was on Good Luck Road for a large portion of the total trip.  I passed a bunch of NASA test facilities, which I think finally revealed to me the origins of the name of the road.  I didn't have too much trouble finding my way on the part of the trip that I hadn't done before, but I got in a little bit of trouble trying to find a shortcut from Old Town Bowie to 197...I ended up by some very nice horse farms with a "No Tresspassing" sign that seemed to block my way to the WB&A Trail.  The total distance for the detour wasn't too bad, but the hill was.

After a couple of miles on 197, I was on the mean streets of Bowie, which provided a very pleasant ride on suburban residential streets.  It was exhilarating knowing how close I was to my goal.  Finally, I pulled up to work, loaded my bike on my pre-positioned car, then went into my office, grabbed the clothes I had left there, showered, and did some work.  Can't wait 'til next year!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nebula Update

The Nebula awards were announced last night.  I actually had taken it upon myself to start reading the best novel nominees.  Life is somewhat hectic these days, but I managed to get through 3 of the 6.  They were
  • The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi 
  • Flesh and Fire, Laura Anne Gilman  
  • The City & The City, China MiĆ©ville 
Of the three, I preferred that The Windup Girl win.  Flesh and Fire was a good book, but it was pretty much standard fantasy fare, with the unique characteristic that spells were cast using wine.  A nice theme, but not spectacular enough to win the genre's top award.  The City & The City was a very interesting book, but it was barely science fiction.  Kudos to MiĆ©ville for creating something that defies categorization, but I feel like the award should be for a book more clearly in the genre.  The Windup Girl was not entirely to my tastes -- I found some of the dystopian aspects of it weird and unrealistic -- but I felt like it contained enough good writing and interesting ideas to beat out the other two.

I'm pleased to say that The Windup Girl won.  Partially because it means I don't have to read the other three. 

I haven't read any of the older ones since my last update, so I've now read 30 out of 45.  I have not yet read last year's winner.  Since I like to read all of the preceding books in the series, I now have a trilogy on my hands.  Since it's Ursula K. LeGuin, I'm looking forward to it.  First I have to finish Connie Willis' Blackout, which I suspect will be one of the 2010 nominees.

Once I get to the LeGuin book, I'll have read all of the winners 1992-2009, so I can start working my way back again.  (Or forward, if I don't have enough time to get to that trilogy in the next year...)