Friday, May 21, 2010

The blue people, and me gasping for breath ...

I had been curious about the movie Avatar, especially I read (and then heard on the Colbert Report) that people who had seen the movie were actually becoming depressed with how real life doesn’t have blue people. You know, it is supposed to have impressive effects and obviously very popular. So I rented it from the Redbox when it became available, and watched it using my Blu-Ray player (which up-converts standard def movies so they are full screen, but still standard def) on my moderate size 32” TV. So watching it, the effects were adequate, when the blue people showed up on screen it basically turned into a cartoon. But the point where the movie and I parted company was when Giovanni Ribisi names what it is that we earth people are supposed to be mining on this planet. Unobtainium. Unobtainium? Give me a f-ing break. Unobtainium? Call it lithium, use the name of a rare earth mineral, call it di-lithium, something. But unobtainium? Geez.

Like I said, that’s where my suspension of disbelief gave up the ghost. The rest of the movie was essentially a long and pretty silly cartoon, for the most part. The environmental message was clumsy, heavy handed and obvious, and not very convincing. I mean, worth watching, but didn’t bowl me over.

The other day I watched that movie Amelie on cable. Now that did bowl me over. I would not use the term “sweet” to describe any movie (or most anything normally), but that is the one word I would use for Amelie.

I have been riding an electric bike to work the last couple of days (including national Ride to Work day - today). It is a Currie Eco-Ride, their entry level lithium battery bike. It is actually kind of overkill for the relatively short commute I have (I go about three miles, it would work well for a ten to fifteen mile commute). The Eco-Ride has an automatic pedal assist system, which is to say when I pedal the motor kicks on, at a relatively good speed. Considering how out of shape I am, this is a good thing. On the other hand, it can be pretty alarming when riding on a sidewalk (which I do on Penn Ave, and also when I am at CMU). It has a throttle, which as far as I could tell, initially, did not work. Turns out it seems to work in the higher gears, when you are presumably going faster. At those speeds the regular speed of the electric motor I guess drags the bike back, so the throttle ratchets up the electric motor so it keeps up. I gather the motor will kick off at 20 mph, a speed that several states use at a dividing line between an electric bike (requiring no license) and an electric motorcycle (requiring a license). But that’s ok, I have no desire to go faster than 19 miles per hour (I guess I might go faster than that down some hills, but I would probably not be pedaling at that point anyway).

I have great access to buses, and when I do ride the bus, it is early enough that the bus is never so crowded that I could be said to be taking anyone’s place. But bike riding in the last couple of days has been difficult enough that I suspect that for a while bike commuting will contribute to my efforts to get in better shape. I suppose that is a decent reason to continue with it, when it is warm and not raining.

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