Thursday, February 23, 2012

Road Rules

When you spend a fair amount of time on the bike path, you can't help but make a few observations:

1. Don't let anybody tell you different, Northern Virginia is a hilly place. Plus, you'll discover that against all rules of nature, there is always a headwind.

2. You are statistically most likely to get hit by a taxi driver, swooping across three lanes of traffic (without using a signal, natch) to nab a fare from another cabbie. Ironically, the fare is most likely a tourist who doesn't realize he's already only three blocks from the White House.

3. It doesn't matter that you are wearing a bright yellow jacket. It doesn't matter that you're nearly 6 feet tall when you're sitting on your bike. It doesn't matter that you have more randomly flashing lights going than a Donna Summer revival concert. Somehow those suburbanites driving their SUVs still manage not to see you.

4. 83% of people under 25 don't actually appear to know their left from their right, so calling out "on your left" is really just wasting everyone's time and your breath.

5. The salesman who sold the hip young man his shiny new Jamis commuter bike ($950), Brooks saddle ($150), and matching Brooks panier bags ($500) did not give him the free advice that a very busy bike path at 5:20 p.m. may not be the best choice for slowly and repeatedly trying to learn how to use those snazzy new toe clips on your pedals ($50).

6. No matter how beautiful you think the sunset is from inside your car, it's nothing compared to how incredible it looks from on a bike.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Paean to Waxed Wrapping Paper

Okay, yes, butter is itself one of my favorite things, but right now I'm actually celebrating the wax paper that's wrapped around it. In a world of life-threatening plastic clamshells and squealing Styrofoam containers, I find the simplicity of the butter wrapper comforting. I love the bold red lettering; a confident sans serif font telling you what is inside without any spin or focus-grouped branding. And how can one sufficiently praise the handy teaspoon measuring scale on the back, as if they knew you lost your measuring spoons, like, four moves ago. Butter has been packaged thusly since the early 1900s, because, as the leading historian of butter packaging has so insightfully noted, "fine butter does desire a dignified package in keeping with its high level of food value." (Don't believe me? Go ahead and check, I'll wait and just sit here noshing this lovely buttery toast.)