“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
― Ira Glass
After biking to DC, I needed a way to get my bike back to New York. There were a few options:
- Ship it (FedEx Ground would be best)
- Take it with me on a bus
- Take it with me on a train
- Have someone drive it back
Since I was already taking the train myself, I figured that’d be the easiest and most inexpensive way to do so. I was right about the latter, but not about the former.
While Amtrak attempts to explain its bicycle rules, they fail miserably.
Q: I have a bike. I’m taking a train. Can the bike with me?
There are four different situations you might be in:
- You cannot take the bike on the train with you
- You can take the bike on board the train with you
- You can take the bike on board the train with you as checked baggage
- You can take the train, and the bike will go as checked baggage on a different train
Bikes on board (walk the bike the train with you)
You can do this on several of Amtrak’s line: Amtrak Cascades, Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner, Downstate Illinois Services, Blue Water (trains 364 and 365 only), Missouri River Runner, Downeaster
(BRK, POR and BON stations only) and Piedmont.
For those of you (like me) unfamiliar with Amtrak’s naming scheme, here’s a decoder ring:
- Cascades is the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington)
- Capitol Corridor takes you from the San Francisco Bay area to the Sacaramento area (California)
- San Joaquin runs through California’s Central Valley
- Pacific Surfliner takes you from Los Angeles to San Diego (California)
- Downstate Illinois takes you from Chicago to other parts of Illinois
- Blue Water is code for “around Michigan”
- Missouri River Runner takes you St. Louis to Kansas City
- Downeaster runs from Boston to Portland, Maine
- Piedmont means Raleigh-to-Charlotte
Bikes as checked baggage (bike in a box)
In order for you to to check your bike as baggage, both the arrival and departure stations must offer checked baggage service. Unfortunately, Amtrak doesn’t provide this list in a useful format. There’s a list of stations and a search tool. Ugh. How inconvenient.
I put together a script to collect this data from the Amtrak site.
Amtrak stations with checked baggage service are: ABQ, ADE, ALB, ALX, ALY, ANA, ATL, AUS, BAL, BED, BEL, BFD, BHM, BNL, BOS, BUF, CBS, CDL, CHI, CHM, CHS, CHW, CIN, CLB, CLE, CLT, CRB, CSW, CTL, CVS, CYN, DAL, DAV, DEN, DFB, DLD, DNC, EDM, ELP, EMY, EUG, EVR, FAR, FAY, FLG, FLO, FNO, FTL, FTW, FUL, GFK, GFV, GJT, GRO, GRV, GSC, HAS, HAV, HCH, HKL, HMD, HNF, HOL, HOS, HUN, IND, JAN, JAX, KCY, KFS, KGG, KIS, LAJ, LAK, LAX, LKL, LMY, LNK, LRK, LSE, LVW, LYH, MCD, MEI, MEM, MIA, MKE, MOD, MOT, MRC, MSP, MTZ, NHV, NOL, NWK, NYP, OKJ, OKL, OMA, ORL, OSD, OXN, PDX, PGH, PHL, PRC, PSC, PTB, PVD, RGH, RMT, RNO, ROC, RVR, SAC, SAN, SAS, SAV, SBA, SBG, SBY, SDY, SEA, SFC, SJC, SKN, SLC, SLM, SLO, SNA, SNS, SOB, SPG, SPI, SPK, SQA, STL, STP, SYR, TAC, TCL, TOL, TPA, TUS, TWO, TXA, UCA, VAC, VAN, VNC, WAS, WFH, WIL, WIN, WLN, WOR, WPB, WPK, WTH and WTN.
Just because there’s checked baggage between your departure and arrival stations doesn’t mean you get to take the bike on board with you. Not all trains have a baggage car. If your train doesn’t have a baggage car, your checked baggage will be placed on the next train that does, and you can come back to your arrival Amtrak station to retrieve your bike.
As an example, the only WAS-NYP train with a baggage car is the 10pm train.
If returning to your arrival station to pick up your bike is too inconvenient, you can always show up at your departure station the day before, check your bike, and collect it when you arrive.
Actually checking the bike
You can’t just hand the bike over to the baggage clerk as-is—the bike must be in a bike box. Amtrak will sell you one for $15. Most bike shops will give you one for free, as they throw them out.
Once you have the bike and the bike box, you need to pack it up. There are many YouTube videos demonstrating how to do this. Typically, you’ll need a pedal wrench and a set of allen keys. If you have bolt-on skewers, bring along a 15mm wrench.
After the bike is boxed up, bring it to the Amtrak ticket counter. The clerk will take your contact information, charge you $10, and hand you a receipt and a claim check. Next, tape the necessary paperwork to the box (Amtrak should loan you tape) and write your name and phone number on the box with a sharpie (just in case).
Finally, walk around the corner to the spot where you drop off checked baggage, and hand your boxed bike to the clerk.
Let’s imagine in for a moment what it would be like if everything the government can share publicly were made public as it happened. If every law, report, inspection, regulation, enforcement action, budget and meeting that we should be aware of is actually made available online and in real time. It would be nothing short of revolutionary.
Many of the incentives that govern our democracies would be fundamentally altered.
Corruption would merely be unthinkable, or at least unsustainable. Regulations could be quickly
enforced. Waste could be quickly addressed. Citizens with good ideas would have an easier time getting in touch with power and the bad actors would be more easily weeded out.
Armed with with access to all kinds of information citizens, can play a more productive and
effective role in self-government and civic life.
Our work to expand public access to government data is enabling citizens like never before to hold their government and their public officials accountable. We must do this because our governments are only as strong as our citizens are informed, and our information is open.
Belt shopping is a pain. It’s often difficult to find something you like — in my case, as plain and free of ornamentation as possible — and that’s reasonably priced. The value of the time spent looking is often more than the cost of the belt.
Next time you find a belt like this, buy two of it.
That way, when your belt finally dies, you don’t have to go through this whole process again. Boom. Simple.
(This, of course, doesn’t apply to belts that are fashion accessories. Just the ones that hold up your pants.)
This morning, Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s premier-designate spoke at a news conference. Her remarks on women jumped out at me:
I don’t know if any of you remember, or have seen my maiden speech, where I talked about coming to the legislature, I felt that I had a responsibility to represent all of my constituents, but that I had some special responsibilities, and I talked about young moms, who might have been at home listening, and having their little kids and thinking “how am I ever going to do the things with my life that I want to do” and I said I can be an example, because I had three little kids, and I was receiving faxes and doing laundry at the same time, with one on my hip, and that doesn’t mean that at some point you can’t have a bigger life.
But I also said that I had a special responsibility to young, gay people who might be looking for the possibility that there might be a more accepting world somewhere. I’m not a gay activist — that’s not how I got in to politics, so I’m not going to spend the next — I’m talking about it today because you’ve asked about it, but I’m not going to spend the next months talking about this. But it is important to me that young people, and people who are frightened, see the possibilities, and that if I can help people to be less frightened, then that’s a wonderful wonder thing.
But for me the really historic thing, and this is the battle I’ve been fighting since I was five years old and went to kindergarten and realized I wasn’t expected to play with the blocks because I was a girl. For me, the fact there are six female premiers across the country — that’s huge. That’s a huge, huge thing. We’ve wondered about why we haven’t had a higher percentage of women in legislatures and in parliament. Well, maybe we’re reaching a critical mass and maybe now it will just be whether you’ve got what it takes to get your name on a ballot and whether you can win in a riding as opposed to whether you’re male or female. Maybe this will make a difference.
Pauline Marois has already reach out to me. I don’t know who else has, but I’m looking forward to talking with all of them and I think the conversation at that table of premiers will be very interesting, and I look forward to chairing that meeting.
Similar to my Where to eat in San Francisco list, here’s a set of recommendations for food an activities in New York, particularly in Brooklyn.
- Aquagrill (seafood)
- The Soul Spot
- Inoteca (Italian)
- Shake Shack (Brooklyn location has no line)
- Veniero (for dessert)
- Juliette (French)
- Atlantic Chip Shop (really good beer selection)
- Nectar (sandwiches and salads)
- My Little Pizzeria
- Moim (Korean)
- Court Street Bagels
Bars (with good food)
- Char No 4
- Bar Tabac (try the squid ink tagliatelle)
- Angel’s Share (speakeasy)
- Union Hall
- Bar Great Harry
- Ganso (ramen)
- Sushi Azabu (reservations strongly recommended; so is the unagi)
Coffee Shops (good places to work from)
- Tea Lounge
- Ted & Honey
- Red Bamboo
- Quantum Leap
- Blossom (fancy)
- The Hummus Place
- Café Habana
- Sophie’s Cuban
- Rachel’s Taqueria
- Ghang Thai
- Pok Pok Ny
- The High Line
- Prospect Park
- Brooklyn Bridge Park
- Central Park
- Transit Museum
- Tenement Museum
- Louis Armstrong Museum
- International Center of Photography
- Book Court
- Chelsea Piers
- The Living Room
- Rockwood Music Hall
- Arlene’s Grocery
- Union Hall
- Spike Hill
- Mercury Lounge
If you want to piss me off, if you want me to hugely discount your value, do this: when I ask you a clarifying question that affects how I will spend my time, my most valuable asset, don’t answer the question.
M-KOPA is a mobile technology company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 2010 we have helped Kenyans acquire solar power products by offering innovative payment plans and a distribution model tailored to the needs of our customers.
M-KOPA Solar provides affordable solar-powered lighting and mobile charging to rural Kenyans on a pay-as-you- go basis, with payment via M-PESA. Additional products using the same patent-pending technology are in pilot.
Our team includes the founder and former executives of Kenya’s popular M-PESA mobile money service.
M-KOPA seeks a high-calibre, experienced, and motivated engineer to join the in Nairobi, Kenya from February 2013 until December 2013.
The fellowship opportunity is supported by LGT Venture Philanthropy’s prestigious iCats Fellowship Program (details are available on the program website).
M-KOPA has a candidate-first HR policy of “finding jobs for great people.” We are seeking the most talented, committed, fun and down-to-earth person we can find to give our technology a “boost” in 2013. Given that we already have an extensive tech team of more than 10 full time employees and part time contractors, covering different technical domains including electronic engineering, software development, database architecture and embedded GSM firmware development, we are open to any candidates who possess strength in the following areas:
- Embedded device firmware: experience developing code for electronics (especially GSM devices)
- Database specialist: experience designing database architecture for scalable, data-driven business
- Enterprise software development: experience with high volume web-based solutions in small and medium-sized teams
- Systems analysis: experience in systems analytics and business process design Selection Criteria
- An undergrad or graduate engineering degree (computer science or electronic engineering or similar)
- Real-world work experience at a dynamic and leading tech company
- Experience traveling or working in Africa
- A great enthusiasm for pitching in and working with a fun team in a fast-moving environment.
- Living and travel stipend as per iCats fellowship terms
- Being part of the iCats fellowship class, including orientation and networking in Zurich pre-fellowship
- The opportunity to spend a year working in “silicon savannah” (Kenya’s tech alley) on a world’s-first innovation, with some of the founders of M-PESA
- A great work environment at “M-KOPA House” – along with great Nairobi weather, flora and fauna, and exciting weekend trips out of town!
- Please send your CV and a cover email to email@example.com by 25th October 2012.
- A shortlist of candidates will be interviewed by phone. The final candidate will be selected by end of October 2012.
Passing along for some friends:
The Noun Project is a highly collaborative place where the world’s visual language is shared and created. We are working with our users, publications and a giant community to simplify and organize visual communication. There’s a lot of great work to be done, and to realize it, we need some talented people. Join the small team behind the big idea.
Chicago: Developer at the Noun Project
Oh hey, we’re The Barbarian Group. We’re a digital-centric creative agency. Which means we think the Internet has finally won, and become the most important channel in people’s lives–just like we always knew it would. So from brand planning, to attention-grabbing ideas, to innovative applications, products and platforms, we combine strategy, technology, creative and media to make everything brands need to navigate this awesome new world.