Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Road Report #1

I've been meaning to start filing a weekly road report, of roads around Boston that are either really great for cycling (or walking or driving) or else really suck.  I'm guessing most of them will be about ones that really suck, but I'll try not to get too negative.

Our first candidate:

The downramp in Charlesgate (right near the Fens) that leads down to Commonwealth Avenue. 

I'm using this ramp pretty often this summer, whenever I need to get to Cambridge (I have a fun theatre gig at MIT) or Beacon Hill.  I'm a big believer in avoiding biking on sidewalks as much as possible.  And this sidewalk is very narrow and sometimes has people walking on it.

However, driving on the road presents a very difficult challenge, because on the right hand side of the ramp are a series of divots in the concrete that run perpendicular to the road, and are a couple inches deep.

This isn't the greatest photo, but they're deeper than they look, and there is a series of three, so you can't just hop over one, because if you try, you land on another one.  They're deep enough and sharp enough to rattle your teeth, and certainly readjust (mal-adjust) several mechanisms on your bike.

For now the solution is either to try to survive them and hope not to pop a tire or crash into the cars next to me, drive in the lane (but this is impossible, because the cars drive way too fast down the ramp and don't leave any room), or ride on the sidewalk.

I'm not sure who is actually responsible for this road.  I suspect it might actually be the state, rather than the city.  If anyone has any good suggestions for who to call, please let me know. This is definitely hazardous spot, but one that's hard to avoid, because it helps me get across the Turnpike.

Here's where it is on the map, in case you're interested:

View Larger Map

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekly Tally #6: How I Got Around Last Week

Here's the quick stats for last week:

walking:  15.6 miles
biking:   76.2 miles
car (zipcar): 10 miles

We needed zipcar to get to a party in Medford, because it would have taken forever to get there by T, and it was too far too go with my son.  This might be the most I've biked in a single week.  I can definitely feel my legs getting much stronger as the summer progresses.

If I ever get a tattoo...

If I ever get a tattoo (not that I'm planning on it), maybe I'll get one like my friend Jeff has:

The text reads, (translated), "In the city, two wheels is best."  But it sounds cooler in Latin.  (What doesn't?)

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Deed!!

Good afternoon dolls!

How are you all? Enjoying your Friday afternoon I hope!

So, I have a friend, she is gorgeous, lovely and has everything going for her but her heart is going no where as its at a stand still.

She met this guy and instantly fell for him. I don't blame her, I've seen pictures and the body on this guy is amazing! They have seen eachother literally every night out and about for the past month and there was a lot of flirting and they both liked eachother. They live near eachother so travelled home together one evening and he then happened to go back to her place with her. After a few drinks, they could not hold back their desire for one another and one thing lead to another. They even fell asleep cuddling which really is lovely. From what she told me, it was very heated and intense and her exact words were.. "It was Amazing!"

So my friend phones me the next day telling me how great her night was and I could not be happier for her. Its what she has wanted for over a month and she finally got the man she wants. Yet, has she got him? Is he hers now the deed is done?!

Not exactly! He told her he would phone later that day when he left in the morning yet he didn't. She saw him out that same night and he smiled at her yet did not give her any attention. Now, as girls, if we do not get attention after "The Deed" the amount of things that run through are heads are too much to cope with. Us girls think very deeply about every little thing.

So, here is my friend now thinking, "Was it just a one night stand? Did he just want me for sex? Will he want more? Will he take me on a date? Should I expect more? Does he like me?"
Now when your friend is asking you all these questions and you don't even know the guy, how are you to respond? There's me telling her how happy I was for her getting what she wanted, but now she has not exactly got what she wanted in full, do I take back my happiness? Obviously I will listen to her and give her the best advice a friend can give, but when you are not in the situation yourself it is so hard.

So now she has seen him twice since "The Deed" but has not got much more than a hello and a smile. If that was me, I know inside I would be screaming and wanting to say, "Why have you not called me? Did you just use me, is that it?" But, how can you say it? Why is it so much harder to talk about it after when the sex came so easily?

Im sure some of you out there have been through something similar so would love to hear your opinions and advice and im sure my friend would love some more advice than me saying "Well clearly your better than him and if he doesn't want you its his loss because your amazing!" All true words but considering she is LoVeStOnEd I want to get her feeling better about herself.

Until the next time GuYs and Dolls!

Lotsa Love..

Little Miss V..xx

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Love Is In The Air!? Or Maybe Not!!

Hi dolls!

How are we all..
Ok before you all say it, ill get to it first. IM AWFUL! I know I know. I should be blogging more often but the wonderful life of Moi just gets a bit exciting and I forget! Oh well, Im here now!!

So, I was talking to an old friend before (which was really nice) and he was telling me how much he loves my blogs (Thanks Scott!) We then got into a DEEP convo about relationships and love and how summer is here and love is going AWOL! So here I am now blogging about it.

I myself am single, to be honest, I like it that way. No dramas, no hassle, no break ups which then make me depressed and I eat every single bit of munch in my house!
But it seems to be this time of the year people are starting to break up!
3 friends of mine have just ended with their boyfriends in the space of two weeks and a friend of mine who is engaged ended it with his fiance!
Is there something in the air? Is it all these new weird bugs coming into the UK that are doing something to us? WHY IS EVERYBODY BREAKING UP?!

I remember when I was younger and would have a boyfriend for a few months but as soon as summer was coming up and I was going away abroad it would be bye bye boyfriend, hello foreign boys! Don't think im some sort of skank who wanted loads of different guys but when your young you want to have fun! Don't forget, when you go on holiday and meet a guy, its no strings attached! There are no questions and thinking about life plans with this person, its just time to enjoy someone you normally wouldn't and in a completely different surrounding with sun, sea, sand and ... ye, you know! Im still young so fun is...well... FUN, but is that what my friends want? Is that why they are all ending their relationships?

So here I am having an email conversation with one friend who just broke up with her boyfriend. I asked why and her reply was as follows.. "I am much better than he is and he does not treat me the way I should be treated!"
Ok, fair enough. As girls we feel we are Princesses and should be treated as such. All we really want is to be like the Princesses in the Disneys films! A bit of hard work here and there, some dwarfs and bad apples on the way, a bit of cleaning, an evil step mother and voila, there is Prince Charming!
Or maybe not. Not in this real life. I wont lie, I haven't met ONE decent guy in the past couple of years that has made me think "Ye, I could spend the rest of my life with him!" Ive met the ones which make me say "Pah, Im bored, why not!?" And that is wrong. So this has been the problem with my friends, they have been bored so have been settling for the irrelevances instead of waiting for the relevant men!

To be honest, at the end of the day, when summer comes, clearly a change of heart does as well. But ladies and gents, DO NOT end things with your partner just because you think you want to have fun! If you have some one in your life who makes you feel special and loved and wanted, don't ruin it for the 'Miguel' on holiday who you will never see again apart from on Facebook! There are a lot of fun things that you can do with your own partner.. go to Ann Summers and investigate! haha!

Well, thats all on that one dolls but dont forget you can ask me any queries at any time and im here to help answer!

Lots of love..

Little Miss V..xx

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

bike city: Copenhagen

I happened to stumble upon an interesting bike advocacy site:  peopleforbikes.org, and on their blog, they've got a great post about Velo-City 2010, the world's largest bike advocacy and planning conference, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Talk about an amazing city for riding bikes.  Definitely check out the blog post.  I love their system of sidewalk/bike lanes/car lanes.  And talk about strong goals--their goal is to have 50% of all travel in the city done by bike.  I sure would love to see Boston move farther in that direction.  And now I want to visit Copenhagen in a serious way.

There's also this cool video about Copenhagen and bikes:

Weekly Tally #5: How I Got Around Last Week

I kept track again this week.  No zipcar this week, though we did a get a ride from a friend.  The heat (yet again) made getting around awfully hot some days.  No T rides at all this week.  Lots of bike miles (more than 50).

In the past five weeks, since I've been keeping track, I've ridden the bike more than 200 miles, which is more than I would have expected.

So, last week, here's how I got around:

walking:  3 miles  
bike:  6.6 miles

walking: 2 miles
bike:  8 miles 

walking:  2.75 mile
bike:  4 miles

walking: 2 miles
bike:  11.6 miles

walking:  2 miles
bike:  11 miles

walking: 3 miles
bike:  5.6 miles

walking:  3.2 miles 
bike:  1.6 miles
car:  10 miles (our friend Joe gave us a ride to a picnic)

walking:  ~18 miles
bike:  50.8 miles
T: 0 miles
Car:  10 miles

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekly Tally #4: How I Got Around Last Week

I kept track again this week.  We rented a zipcar on Thursday to pick up Noah from the beach and run errands.

So, last week, here's how I got around:

walking:  2 miles  
bike:  4 miles

walking: 2 miles
bike:  11.2 miles  (SUPER hot outside on this day.  I was pretty wiped out.)

walking:  4 mile
bike:  0 miles
boat:  35 miles (Tracy and I took the ferry from Boston to Salem.  It's about a 50-minute ride.  $20 round trip.  I love being able to get around by boat, and it was the perfect way to travel on a very hot day.)
T:  8 miles

walking: 3 miles
bike:  2 miles
zipcar:  180 miles

walking:  3.5 miles
bike:  4.5 miles

walking: 2 miles
bike:  6.8 miles

walking:  2 miles 
bike:  4 miles

walking:  18.5 miles
bike:  32.5 miles
T: 8 miles
Car:  180 miles
Boat:  35 miles

Wallpaper Mania

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bike sharing in Boston gets $3m federal grant - The Boston Globe

Looks like Boston really will end up getting bike sharing. I'm thrilled--not because we're likely to use the rental bikes (we already own our bikes), but because it puts more cyclists on the roads and will cause Boston to pay more attention to bike lanes and traffic patterns that include bicycles.

Bike sharing in Boston gets $3m federal grant - The Boston Globe

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Weekly Tally #3: How I Got Around Last Week

I kept track again this week.  We rented a zipcar on Sunday to take the kids down to the beach to stay with Grandma (Tracy and I get some time to ourselves!).

So, last week, here's how I got around:

walking:  2 miles  
bike:  9 miles

walking: 1 mile
bike:  15 miles  (I was kinda tired after this day of multiple trips)

walking:  1 mile
bike:  5 miles

walking: 2 miles
bike:  4 miles

walking:  4 miles
bike:  5.2 miles

walking: 2 miles
bike:  2 miles

walking:  2 miles 
bike:  0 miles
car (zipcar):  200 miles

walking:  14 miles
bike:  40.2 miles
T: 0 miles
Car:  200 miles

This week, it seems like the trick is going to be surviving the heat.  Walking and biking mile after mile get a little tougher in the 90 degree temps.

Monday, July 5, 2010

there is a bike train from Boston to Newburyport

A recent Boston Globe article says that there's a special bike coach that riders can take from Boston up to Cape Ann, to do a little coastal riding, checking out the beaches and shore up near Rockport and Ipswich.  I'm going to have to check it out later this summer.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Numbers Are In

It's now been more than a year since we got rid of our car.  Last weekend, Tracy added up our transportation costs for the past year, as well as for the year prior, so we can see how much money we saved by getting rid of our car.  (If at all.)

Keep in mind that it's not like we never drive a car--we use zipcar and other rental cars when we need them.  And that costs money.  As does bike repair and T passes.

So here are the totals:

In our last year with the car, 2008-2009, here's what we spent on transportation:

T-pass/subway:  $520.30
Gas:  $1,293.69
Insurance: $829.35
Car repair:  $1,839.35
Tolls/parking:  $484.95
Monthly parking:  $720.00

TOTAL:  $5,687.64

So last year, without a car, here's what we spent:
Bicycles (repair, class, supplies, and new (used) bikes for both kids):  $896.10
Car rental (not zipcar):  $939.17
Walking:  $42.48  (shoe inserts, but not shoes)
T/Subway:  $558.72
Zipcar:  $1,033.95

TOTAL:  $3,470.42

So, by getting rid of our car, last year we saved:  $2,217.22  (or about $184.77 per month).  Last year, when we were getting started on this, we'd estimated that we'd save about $170 in cash every month

Some things to keep in mind: 
  • the car costs from the last year with the car did not include the purchase cost of the car (it was paid off a long time ago).  If you spread out the cost of buying the car over all the years we owned it, that was about $150/ month (I figured this out last year.)
  • our bike costs might go down a bit in the next year because this year each of the kids got a new (used) bike via Craig's List, we bought a trailer, and I learned how to do basic repairs on the bikes, so even though there will still be some shop visits, they should be fewer.
  • We spent more on zipcar and rental cars than we'd planned, but I think we were pretty satisfied with how it worked out.  We got to visit family when we needed to and took field trips that we wanted.
  • Not only did we save money, we also put a lot less emissions into the air.  And we got a lot of great exercise and fresh air.
  • In our daily lives, because we live in a very walkable, urban area, not having a car didn't end up costing a lot more time.  Grocery shopping by bike doesn't take a lot longer than by car, and other errands, by the time you get in the car, find a parking space, park the car, get out of the car, aren't a lot faster by car than on foot or bike.  This wouldn't be the case if we lived in the suburbs or country.
So it's been a big success so far--we're saving money, getting fit, and doing a small (tiny) bit for the environment.  I'd say we're in no hurry to go out and buy a car.

Summer Loving.. I'll Have Me A Blast!!

Good afternoon dolls!
How are we all doing?
Im sorry for lack of blogging recently.. so much goes on in my weird and wonderful life!

So, is summer finally here? The weekend was an absolute delight! It got up to 31 degrees in London town and I myself could not be happier!
I am a summer baby. I love the sun, the heat and the fun that happens in the sun and heat :-P
I was lucky enough to chill by my friends swimming pool on the hot weekend and get myself a nice tan. I did burn slightly, but a week later, im looking brown & hot :-)

The great thing about the sun too is everybody decides to have BBQ's! I attended two on Sunday which was great fun! To be honest, theres nothing I enjoy more than being at a BBQ with nice weather, good music and great company and I had that at both!

So, things are looking good right now and I have exciting things to look forward to. This Sunday im attending Wireless festival with the likes of Wiley, Roll Deep, Lily Allen, Professer Green, Slash and Jay Z. My best friend Richard bought me a ticket for my birthday and theres about 20 of us going there, I couldn't be more excited!

On the 18th of July, I am doing the Race For Life run/walk on behalf of Cancer Research. Should be a nice day and its for a good cause. For those of you who would like to sponsor me, you can via http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/ilanavaknine

So, with summer here and festivals, I thought this may be a good time to help you all with things you can do/use in the heat etc.

** If you are going to be tanning, BE CAREFUL. Unlike me who thought the sun wasn't strong and got burnt, you need to use a good sun protecter. Try at least a 15 on olive skin like mine and for those paler vampire Edward Cullen types, use a 20 or more.

** ALWAYS keep hydrated. Drink LOTS of water. H20 H20 H20!!

** Wear a hat! Especially if it gets very hot, you dont want your head burning which can lead to sunstroke! Also you can get gorgeous straw hats which are a festival favourite!

** Use protection on your lips as well. You might not know this but the sun can burn your lips. Use an SPF lip balm. Even Palmers do a delicious coco butter one!

My festival handbag will be small but ill be sure to have Vaseline for my lips, Baby wipes as you don't know what your touching and who touched it last, Anti bacterial hand gel as the porta cabin loo's dont usually have taps to wash your hands, a toilet roll as once again the porta loo's are gross, plasters as im a walking accident and a camera to catch every single moment!!

I hope you've all enjoyed todays blog and if you are going to any festivals.. enjoy and rockkkk onnnn!!

Lots of love..

Little Miss V.. xx