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Yup…it is cold and snowy (and a few things I saw on my walk)

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The above temperature is what we woke up to here in WNY. I know it is not nearly as cold as the Mid-West, but geeze ‘o man it is cold. I went out in it only briefly today (to split some logs for the wood-burning stove and then to the store fore a bottle of wine…necessities on both accounts), and no I did not ride a bike; I walked. It’s not that there is that much snow–we’ve had far more than this–but it’s the wind, the incredible wind, that makes it difficult when it is so cold. But at the same time it can be so very beautiful. Anyhow, on my short walk to the store I took a few photos and thought I’d share. And yes, as is usual custom in Buffalo, the bars stayed open and were quite full of revelers. So I stopped in for one on my way home.

 

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes I Gotta Use My Feet…

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If you’ve been to this blog before then you know that I like to ride bicycles as transportation. A lot. And I often comment on how much more a person sees while on a bike rather than being stuck in a plastic and metal shell more commonly known as an automobile. Many of my photos, in fact, were taken while on my bike, which would be nearly impossible if I was driving a car. Well, to drop this down a few octaves further, sometimes I just have to walk…sometimes I just gotta use my feet. Walking, especially when there is no actual destination or time-frame, can be meditative for me; a great way to clear my head and/or think about things. Last night was such a walk. Armed with a camera and an iPod for music, and slightly fortified with a few beers in my belly, I went for a really lovely late evening autumn walk. And here are a few of the things I saw a long the way.

Urban Simplicity.

Sometimes I just gotta use my feet…

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If you’ve been to this blog previously one of the things you know about me is that I like to ride bikes. A lot. But sometimes nothing will do except using my own two feet and walk. Today was just that day. Autumn is my favorite season of the year and the weather here in Western New York has been so incredibly beautiful this past week that when I had something to do this morning I didn’t want to waste a minute of this idyllic day. And so instead of hopping on a bike, I walked. Here’s a few photos I took a long the way.

Urban Simplicity.

Autumn…

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“Just as a painter needs light in order to put the finishing touches to his picture, so I need an inner light, which I feel I never have enough of in the autumn.”
~Leo Tolstoy

Autumn has always been my favorite season. And yes, I realize that we are a couple weeks away from it’s official arrival, but these past couple days surly felt like it. It’s an introspective time for me; it always has been. I don’t know why, it just is. A sort of meditative melancholia, but in a good way (if that makes any sense). In the same way that spring brings renewal, I believe autumn does too, but in a different way. Things change…some things end and some begin. New schedules (my second year at seminary begins soon), new–or diminished–light in the sky, and a sort of preparation for things (both physically and spiritually) of what’s to come with the starkness of winter which will surely follow theses next few months. I had a sort of odd week at work, and a busy last couple of days, so I took a brisk and cleansing walk last night (which ended with stopping for a couple beers). It felt good to have the cool breeze on my face; it drizzled a little and that felt good as well. I could smell wood smoke in the air, and I too started a small but brief fire in my wood stove to take the chill off the house when I got home. The change of season feels good to me…needed. Anyhow, I thought I’d share these tow photos I took while walking; click either for a larger view.

“Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”
~Truman Capote

Urban Simplicity.

A beautiful evening and an anti-auto rant…

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Cool photo, right? I took it while on a walk this evening. It looks sort of Star Wars-esque, doesn’t it? You’d never know that I took it while in the heart of the city. Anyhow, I had gone for a long walk tonight to clear my head (walked the length of the Elmwood Village here in Buffalo, from Allen to Forest and back again) and twice (yes twice) was almost struck by a car while crossing an intersection while the driver blindly turned while chatting on a cellphone. The first time it was so close that by the time the car stopped I had instinctively put my hand out (as if that would have done anything) and my hand rested on the hood of the car while its bumper pressed against my leg (no joke). There are too many cars on the road and too many people on cellphones while driving. Does every adult American really need a car? Two adults in the house…two cars; five adults in the house…five cars. Does every trip—no matter how long or short—really require a car? There are other forms of transportation. Sorry for the rant, but I had not one but two close calls tonight while I was simply out for a walk on a beautiful summer’s eve. I’ll put down my bullhorn now.

Urban Simplicity. 

A Few Things I Saw While Walking Today…

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Urban Simplicity.

A Walk at Dusk…

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Urban Simplicity.

Thoughts on Vehicles and Personal Transport

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vehicle
–n
Any conveyance in or by which people or objects are transported, especially one fitted with wheels.
It’s interesting, I think, how some people are just baffled. Okay, I’m often baffled on many things myself, but what I’m talking about is that people are stunned–sometimes rendered speechless momentarily–when I tell them that I voluntarily choose not to own a car. Some (many) are convinced that it is impossible to get by without a car…this is the car-centric society in which we live. Here are two brief examples of conversations I had today; the first one was with a co-worker.
She: So Joe, are you going to get another vehicle?
Me: I already own multiple vehicles.
She: You know what I mean.
Me: Yes I do, but I’m serious…and actually I hope to never own a car again.
Moment of speechlessness, then a quick succession of questions.
She: But how will you get to your sister’s houses (who all live in the suburbs), to the airport or train station when you travel, to the grocery store in the winter.
Me: Buffalo Car Share to my sisters; taxi, bus, or another ride to the airport or train station; and bus or bike in the winter; but mostly bike and walk to everything else.
Our conversation ended soon thereafter, but here’s another example; this took place as I was coming out of the health club and unlocking my bike. There were two guys sitting in chairs nearby.
He: Hey buddy, what type of bike is that…it’s pretty interesting looking?
Me: Thanks, it’s a Torker Cargo-T but based on the Batavus Delivery Bike
He: What’s with the large racks?
Me: It’s for carrying stuff; this and another bike, which is larger and can carry even more stuff, have enabled me to go car-free.
He: You mean you don’t own a car, you do everything by bike?
Me: For the most part, yes.
He: Wow, that’s awesome. I’d love to do that.
Me: (thinking this to myself but not saying it aloud…You can if you really want to, then) Thanks, have a nice evening.
And as I pedaled home it was drizzling a little. It has hardly rained at all this summer so it felt good. Really good. Normally I try to avoid the rain, but I didn’t tonight. At one point I was stopped at a traffic light and just stood there straddling my bike in the light drizzle, being conscious of how it felt as it landed on my face and bare arms. I realize that going car-free is not for everyone (and may not even be permanent for me…we’ll see how I fair a WNY Winter), and I’m certainly not trying to cram a car-free lifestyle down anyone’s throat…I only talk about it if people ask me (except on this blog, where you can close the page or un-follow if it bothers you). Anyhow, as I pedaled home and felt the light rain on my body I felt like an active part of my surroundings, not a passive one. At that very moment it felt good to be on a bike coasting slowly in the light drizzle. I am grateful for many things in my life, and at that very moment this was one of them.

New York State Paid Me to Remove My Truck from the Road

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Yup, it’s true. Many of you know that I recently sold my truck, and after being car-lite for many years I am finally car-free (I did recently join Buffalo Car Share but haven’t used it yet…haven’t used a car in more than a month actually). Anyhow, as if the savings from the true cost of car ownership weren’t enough, New York State sent me a refund check for un-registering my truck. A few weeks ago when I turned in my plates the nice woman at the counter told me I would likely receive a check in the mail because I had almost a year left on my vehicle’s registration. Honestly, when she told me this I just sort of shrugged it off…yea, right, like the state is going to give me money back for this, I thought to myself. Well, I stand corrected. The proof is above. And it’s interesting that in the past month or so that I have not had my truck I haven’t really missed it (obviously it’s much easier this time of year while the weather is nice). And while I enjoy the benefits of physical exercise and the peace of mind riding a bike or walking, a side benefit is that it’s a lot easier on my wallet…and that makes me happy.

Urban Simplicity.