Knitting Clio is back from vacation

Barbie_sJust returned from an awesome bike trip from Prague to Budapest with Czech Active tours — this was one of the best organized trips I’ve done. The tour leaders are very friendly and laid back.  I’d recommend this to anyone who likes to ride and enjoy nice scenery and good food.

Before the trip, we spent a few extra days in Prague.  One of my favorite sites was the Toy and Barbie Museum.  I hope my buddy Historiann will enjoy looking at the website on the Barbie exhibition, in honor of the doll’s 50th anniversary.  Highly recommended for toy enthusiasts and/or fans of Barbie.

Not quite the Seacoast Century

This past Saturday, I made my annual attempt at the Tri-state Seacoast Century sponsored by the Granite State Wheelmen.  The ride starts in Hampton Beach, but because my parents’ summer house is right on the course as it goes through York, ME, I start there and do the course in reverse.  This meant riding by myself for 6+ hours, into a head or cross-wind the whole time.  So, alas, I only managed to finish 85 miles before my back crapped out on me, not too shabby since the longest ride I did this season was 65 miles, back in May.  Let’s hope my usual bike ride buddies will be able to join me next year.

Cycling and Punditry

It’s not often I write about cycling and politics in the same post, but I just had to report on the exchange about Barack Obama over at the Eastern Bloc Cycling Club forum. It all started with a link to an AP story and photo of the senator riding his bike along Lake Michigan. One guy who works at Benidorm Bikes and Boards, who is also an adjunct professor of Geography at my university, said he looked like a dork, and that at least we now have a mountain biker in the White House. This “dork” statement arose from what he thought was a very large fender on the back of the senator’s bike. Since this guy works in a bike shop, one would think that he would recognize a tag-along bike trailer when he saw one!

Another guy retorted, “ right now we have a criminal in the WH, passing off as a president. Dork or world-class leader, Obama will be a major improvement.”

This led to a full out political battle, including allegations that Obama would impose a luxury tax on bicycles (dude, that would only be on ones that cost more than $40,000 — please tell me why you need a solid gold bicycle?) as well as a link to Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle.

What bugs me most about the posts by my so-called colleague in Geography is his cracks about other academics – e.g. “When it comes to my President I want someone with “bottom”, not a light weight intellectual. I work with them at CCSU every semester.”

At least he didn’t call us intellectual light-weights — still, I’m wondering if his chair and department mates would like to hear that? Also, not sure what he means by bottom. Is he comparing the sizes of the two senators’ read-ends? !

You can read the entire exchange here. I’m about to go on vacation in Turkey for two weeks, starting Wednesday, so won’t be replying to this anymore, and won’t be moderating this blog until I get back.

New Bike Club Member

Friday mornings, I usually go for a long bike ride with friends from Eastern Bloc Cycling Club.  Yesterday was a gorgeous day, and two-thirds of the way through our 40 mile ride, we stopped at the Planted Feather Farm and Bakery for some fresh-baked goodies.  Here, we got to meet Ruby the Sow, whom we think would make an excellent club Mascot:  Just don’t “hog” all the energy bars!

Planted Feather Farm and Bakery

Disability History in the News

It’s been a busy week here at the University, so I haven’t had much time to do more than note the following articles related to disability history, loosely defined in one case.

First up is the New York Times review of The Lives They Left Behind, a book version of an exhibit on the Willard State Hospital at the New York State Museum. I really love the exhibit and am looking forward to reading the book. The book reviewer, being an M.D., seems to be missing the point of historical scholarship. She writes, “basing a complex argument on fragmented and archaic case histories is problematic both for science and for style. A coherent scientific argument demands complete, current data, not reinterpreted glimpses of the past.” This may be fine for “evidence-based medicine,” but really unfair to apply to historical scholarship, which by its very nature is based on the shards and pieces that manage to survive. Also, sometimes you just have to get angry about social injustice, even bitchy, like this righteous woman. [as Tina Fey said when Senatorella was on SNL, “bitches get things done.”]

Another story on exhibiting disability history to the public comes from this CBS news story on the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, which has been turned into a tourist attraction and historic site. Some mental health advocates have objected to the use of the word “lunatic” in the museum’s promotional materials. Others have suggested that this term, while politically incorrect today, is an important part of the history that should not be covered up to suit modern day sensibilities. I’m inclined to lean toward the latter position, just as long as it doesn’t lead to a revival of the term in the popular lexicon (only we loonies can use the word!)

The final story comes from my interest in bicycling, and is not really about history except that it regards a well known cyclist from the 1980s and early 1990s, Davis Phinney. I had no idea he had Parkinson’s disease. His son is now an elite cyclists aiming for the Olympics. Maybe they’ll let Davis carry the torch, like they did with Muhammed Ali? Probably not, Davis was great in his day, but he’s not Lance.