Bikes of The French Quarter and Marigny, New Orleans

Just some bikes.  I realized I had a lot of pictures of them, and thought I’d share some in their element.


Congress Busy on 220th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights

US Senate voted 86 to 13 in favor of the NDAA for FY 2012

220 years ago, on the 15th of December 1791 the Bills of Rights was ratified.  The first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America enshrined in law basic freedoms for all Americans, including freedom of speech, religion, the press, assembly and the right to bear arms.  It also protects us from unlawful search and seizure, gives us the right to a trial, and protects us from excessive punishment, among other things.  It’s a good text to know, because it enshrines some of our most basic rights as a people.

On this, its 22oth anniversary, Congress was once again in session, theoretically doing the peoples business, though I am not so sure that is what they were doing.  Here are two things that marked the day for them.  You be the judge.

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Greenbrier River Trail, Come Ride With Me

A clip filmed with my iPhone riding a short stretch of the Greenbrier River Trail in Hillsboro, West Virginia. The clip tells you a little about the trail and the experience of riding it.

Yesterday I biked about 15 miles of the Trail, as you can see mapped out on the site below.   I biked out about 7 1/4 miles then most of the way back.  Then I stopped MapMyRide and continued for the remainder narrated in the video.

The clip is a rough cut.  I’ll do a proper edit eventually, probably collecting clips from different parts of the trail.  But I have only recently started my job here at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace and we have a lot to do, so for now, rough cuts it is.
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By the Numbers

This is just some food for thought, numbers that that I find it difficult to get my head around, particularly how they relate to one another. How do you make sense of them?  Especially in light of the debate over current budget priorities?

Value of a Life:

  • The EPA estimates the value of life at $9.1 million.
  • The FDA estimates the value of life at $7.9 million.
  • For the Transportation Department the cost is only $6 million
  • Homeland Security say the cost of preventing death by terrorism may be 100 times higher than death by other means.

(source: “As U.S. Agencies Put More Value on a Life, Businesses Fret,” by Binyamin Appelbaum. The New York Times, February, 16,2011.)

Profits, Taxes, Bailouts and Layoffs at one company:

  • Last week there were protests over the $885 million tax refund received by a Boston based company, State Street Corp.
  • The company reported $1.56 billion in profits last year.
  • It received a bailout of $2 billion in October 2008, though it repaid in in June 2009.
  • On Nov. 30 State Street announced that it is cutting 1,400 jobs, or 5 percent of its workforce.
  • In 2010 Chief Executive Officer Joseph “Jay” Hooley received compensation valued at $12.9 million.

(source: “State Street’s $885 Million Tax Refund Sparks Boston Protest,” Christopher Condon. Bloomberg, April 15, 2011)

State budget deficits:

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Athletics and Budget Cuts

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I saw an interesting report about the costs of college sports on the PBS program Need to Know tonight. According to the report, the football coach at the University of Alabama earns 6 million a year, more than twice the salary of the nation’s highest paid college president. The Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Connecticut is the highest paid employee in the state. These are both public universities, by the way.

That, alone, is shocking. It is often argued that the sports teams bring in revenue in ticket sales and merchandise licensing, but people buy plenty of merchandise from colleges that don’t play in the big tournaments. It’s also argued the sports teams bring in exposure, but Harvard and Yale don’t field NCAA teams and they seem to have little trouble attracting students. Ultimately, if a potential student has a choice between a really prestigious school that places graduates in great jobs and and a college well known for athletics, I dare say, most would pick the college that offers the better job prospects.

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

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Michael Needs New Shoes

I love my Blackspot Shoes. I’ve had them a few years and they have held up remarkably well. They’re in good shape, but they are starting to rip around the seams. I happened to be noting that today when one of my favorite songs, “New Shoes” by Paolo Nutini, cycled through my iPhone playlist. I couldn’t resist throwing together this silly video.

New Shoes from Michael Toler on Vimeo.

Closing Night at Laurel Grill and Bar

Laurel Grill and Bar, one of my favorite places in Boston, has been sold and officially closed its doors tonight. Time to find a new watering hole, probably just wherever our favorite bartender Eryl goes!

It was a pretty impressive crowd that showed up to say good-bye tonight, especially since nobody knew it was going to happen until a day or two ago. The Facebook event page helped, but mostly I think it was word of mouth. People love that place and they love the staff. Here’s a few pictures from tonight. They’re not great, taken with my iPhone, but they do document a special night.

More check-ins at Laurel’s Bar & Grill
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