What I Did on my Summer Vacation – 2015

This summer, for the first time in three years, I’ve scaled back my blog posts to about once every other week, instead of weekly. I’ll talk more about that later on, but for right now, here’s what you’ve missed because I haven’t been writing about it.

I learned to ride a bike (to work)

Biking was a huge part of my childhood. I lived at the top of a huge hill, and I would pass big chunks of the afternoon riding down the hill at high speeds, walking my bike back up the hill, and repeating. I rode a little 20-inch bike around the small town of Freeport far after I had outgrown it, mostly because smaller bikes were better for “stunts”.  It baffles me today that I once had the courage/ability/stupidity to stand on the seat during these trips down the hill, which resulted in eating asphalt at least once in front of a panicked porchful of parents. And I was the least daring of all my friends, my brother was easily the bigger risk-taker and air-getter. I painted the frame of that bike hunter green, then went in and hand-painted, in white, the bits of pop culture that were important to me. I think the top tube had TV shows, the down tube had bands, and the other frame components had other categories. Part of me wants to know exactly what I had painted on there, the rest of me cringes based on what I do remember (I’m 100% certain, for instance, that “Korn” would have been on the down tube).

I biked less in high school and not at all in college until my fifth year, when I built a bike at Free Ride and paid for it in volunteer hours. I abandoned that bike to rust when I moved out of that apartment building and into Angela’s place in Millvale; easy-come, easy-go. Since then, I always said that I would bike to work if it was at all practical, and this spring I got the chance to make good on that previously theoretical assertion. I bought a brand new bike at Thick, paid for it in real money, and have been riding pretty consistently ever since. With the exception of a busy and wet period between June and July, I’ve ridden to work several times a week, culminating in an impressive August showing.

NBCscreenshot2015-08

That’s from the National Bike Challenge page. Their goal is to promote friendly competition and encourage riding a little bit each day. And it has worked, my mindset as far as what is feasible to do on a bike has changed dramatically. There are things that I use the bike for regularly that I wouldn’t have considered a few months ago (biking to a baseball game), and things that I’ve done for leisure that never would have even crossed my mind (like bicycle camping).

Ready for camping.

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Someday I’ll write my requisite “ode to biking”, where I talk about how biking is the best way to experience a city, and I’ll also have to write a rant at some point against motorists and politicians who don’t understand the benefits of a robust cycling infrastructure. Such are the obligations of bloggers who bike.

I did other creative things,  I swear

I just can’t prove them to you right now. My PKN was very well received, and there’s video of it someplace, but it may never make it to the internet, who knows. I also got recruited to help write some scripts for something else, those will fur sure make it to the internet in the future. I’ve also gone through my old posts and found some common threads that I plan on weaving together into longer, better-researched pieces. I’m not sure what the outlet for those will be, but once I figure it out I’ll put them up here.

I stepped up my YAF game

YAF is a committee in the AIA that promotes “leadership, mentorship and fellowship” among young architects. This year, I’ve helped organize three different events. I talked about the first one, Storey Telling, and that was really well received. I also helped put together a building tour that had some crossover with another AIA group, the Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), looking to get more involvement from us young architects. And I spent a good part of August tracking down people to participate in another, larger, more structured mentorship program that I’ll talk about later. All that’s been a big step forward and out of my comfort zone; I’m much more comfortable attending events and drinking than I am conceiving of, planning, and organizing the events (and drinking).

I meant to put some serious thought into the future of whatever this is

… and then I didn’t.

It’s been a weird summer.

At the beginning of summer, I tried giving myself “summer hours”. I’d take a half-day every Friday and do something cool. I tried to set up a bunch of interviews so I could get a backlog for my podcast, which would give me options for formatting and let me post more consistently. That never really got anywhere, and the concept of summer hours as a whole was only partially successful, because I didn’t really have less work to do. I ended up just working 40 hours per week most weeks, and because it was impossible to tell which Friday afternoons I would actually have off, I couldn’t plan on doing anything cool ahead of time. There was one afternoon where I sat in a bar and read a book, that was super fun. And another one where I went shopping for powder room paraphernalia. Other than that, it was kind of a bust.

Meanwhile, something I read at the beginning of summer has been eating at me. TL;DR: blogs are dead, if they were ever alive in the first place. And that’s fine, I try not to place a whole ton of stock in my pageviews and my SEO and my click-outs and my whatever. But it begs some questions. What are my long term plans for the blog and podcast? What does they look like in the future? Do they serve my career goals at all? What are my career goals?

So yeah, I don’t know. I’ve been blogging every other week all summer instead of every week, and the world hasn’t ended.  I’m regrouping in a lot of phases of my life right now. This would be a good time to know how to meditate, but I don’t, so I drink too many fancy seltzer drinks instead.

Fancy #seltzer drinks

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To the Fall!

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2 thoughts on “What I Did on my Summer Vacation – 2015

  1. I’ve always sort of admired your commitment to blogging steadily every week. Every time I have tried to emulate it has been a miserable failure. I go two weeks without cooking anything remotely interesting, then come up with some really good stuff all in one weekend and can’t contain my excitement and end up posting three days in a row.
    I guess it’s all about what you want people to get out of your blog. I always want people to learn something and feel better about cooking or eating when they read mine. When I read your blog, I usually get a laugh, a tidbit of interesting trivia, and an update on your life, which I need because I am a crappy friend.
    Anyways, it’s cool that you’re biking. I find it terrifying and also have no place to store a bike. Just make sure you have a bell! I am sympathetic to people who ride on the sidewalk instead of the street (drivers here are psycho), but only when they make some attempt to warn me before mowing me down 😉

  2. Thanks for the vote of confidence! At least one other person gets something out of this.
    RE: bell; I still don’t have one. I’ve learned to pedal with no hands, though, so here’s my plan: get seven bells that play different notes and play bell songs while I ride.

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