Uber Can Do Anything As Long As We Buy What They Sell

Uber is a private company. They set pricing, company values, and customer service. If a company run by a pretty awful bro turns a blind eye to assaults, has no respect for consumer privacy, and touts a price-gouging (dynamic) business model, then make the decision to not support them. Like every other private company, they will only be around as long as they have customers. It can be inconvenient, but every rider has the option of calling a taxi, which is simple with a smartphone.

Furthermore, I have 3 points in response to the Triangle Business Journal’s article on the NC Attorney General’s involvement after Halloween:

  1. Uber made the entire dynamic pricing model very transparent. I received several emails and notifications from Uber leading up to Halloween and how to avoid costly ride. Also, Uber required the passenger to confirm they understood the “multiplier” on 2 separate prompts.
  2. It seems that most of the complaints are coming from people leaving bars between the hours of 12:30-2:30am who knew planned on drinking and wouldn’t be able to drive home. It’s not Uber’s fault they were drunk and made a bad financial decision.
  3. Every Uber rider had the option of calling a traditional cab company and paying a price determined by city policy.

You can protest Uber by not giving them your money. It will send a powerful message.

Photo by TechCrunch.com

Why I wanted to be a RDU Baton holder

I am the RDU Baton holder on instagram today (@rdubaton) and I plan to use it as a soapbox for multimodal transportation, sustainability, utilizing urban space better, the need for public art, and so on.

The mission of the RDU Baton is to showcase Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the surrounding communities. We’re supposed to “show off our beautiful and lively corner of the world,” which many other baton holders have done. These people are pumped to be living here, in a growing area grounded by great universities, a burgeoning tech center, good food, and craft beer. I like all those things too but there is a lot more to Raleigh regarding transportation, social equity, and sustainability.

The relationship between the homeless, Moore Square, public transportation, and the city is strained; the train tracks are privately owned and serve as a thoroughfare for the transient; new cookie-cutter housing is built in large blocks next to residential neighbors with no input; bike riders fear for their lives because there are not dedicated bike lanes, even on brand-new streets; a small group of citizens dictate how public land and resources are used, citing safety and money to scare people; a lot of time, money, and space downtown is focused on alcohol and the more frequent “special event”; light rail was struck down, again, while Citrix is building a giant parking deck on Morgan Street.

I live between NCSU and downtown in a relatively low-income area cut off by Hillsborough Street, Pullen Park, and the railroad tracks. I see a lot and ride my bike to work often, rolling past the jail, a methadone clinic, new housing developments and several great local businesses.

I’m hoping to bring awareness to some of these issues. Raleigh is great, but it could be better.

Canoe Camping Trip! The Roanoke River Platform System

6 of us set out towards the North Carolina coast last Saturday with beef jerky, whiskey, sleeping bags, and miscellaneous supplies (I’m not going to list them like I did for Puerto Rico, but it was similar). We met Heber of Roanoke Outdoor Adventures (highly recommended) with the canoes, loaded our gear, and paddled out. The Roanoke River is wide and calm, surrounded by wetlands, and undeveloped. It was literally us and the birds; we didn’t see a cloud for 3 days. The current was such that we could float or wedge into a sunken log to read, write, or take a nap. We often lashed the canoes together to drift and drink, telling stories and cracking joke all afternoon–it was great. At night we paddled to our dock and set up camp on elevated platforms. The mosquitos were bad enough that I slept in my canoe about 100 yards out the second night, waking at dawn, surrounded by lilypads. By Monday I was tired, sun sore, and completely relaxed.

Heber is getting the rest of his clients together for a day paddle and pig-pickin’ later this summer so we’re looking forward to that. He had so many great stories about the river and his life growing up there. The boat in the below pictures is made entirely of fiberglass by a father and son duo who ran a fiberglass manufacturing plant (surprise!).

We paddled about 16 miles from Jamestown to Plymouth, NC

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Photos courtesy of disposable cameras by Nic A. and Sasha R.

Puerto Rico Pictures

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Somewhere inland, off the Ruta PanorámicaSan Juan.Ocean Park_05Right on the beach in San Juan. A lot of the buildings looked like this. 1629_10201007046085368_558513720_nThe cemetery in Old San Juan29003_10201006734277573_840210697_nRhea and I in Old San JuanIMG_20130320_085230Street vendors machete’d the top of coconuts off and stuck a straw in it. Later we smashed them in the street to eat the meat. 

IMG_20130321_125639Above Salta Falls in El Yunque rainforest. We went off the trail and chilled here for a couple of hours.

Puerto Rico Trip + Lists

for the next week: 1 backpack, 0 laptops

What I packed:

Clothes: straw hat, vans hat, rain jacket, underwear, socks, bikini, board shorts, cut off shorts, edmund jeans, belt, blue polo, button down, blue sweater, 4 v-necks, 3 cutoff t-shirts, running shorts and shirt, nikes (these or these would have been better), and vans

Other: toothbrush and paste, sunscreen, shampoo, face wash, face lotion, 2 flashlights, deodorant, Dr. Brommers soap, hand sanitizer, chapstick, aloe, microfiber towel, sunglasses, 31-blade pocket knife, duct tape, matches, 2 notebooks and pens, cash, ID, credit card, AAA card, some type of e-reader with 100 “classics”, ipod shuffle, headphones, phone charger, ipod charger, e-reader charger (all to USB with USB to power), 3 S-clips, flex lock, Ibuprofen, band-aids and ointment, SIGG water bottle, small bag, smaller backpack — packed into big backpack.

Music (Artist-Album) on ipod shuffle (~300 songs): Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls, Beach House – Teen Dream, Ben Howard – Every Kingdom, Cat Power – Covers Record, Cat Power – Moon Pix, Des Ark – Don’t Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker, the Fugees – The Score, How to Dress Well – Love Remains, Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature, Jose Gonzalez – Veneer, Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, Kurt Vile – God is Saying This to You, Lykke Li – Youth Novel, Minus the Bear – Menos El Oso, Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antartica (Deluxe), The National – Boxer, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part, Phantogram – Eyelid Movies, Sharon Van Etten – Because I Was In Love, Toro y Moi – Causers of This, The Weeknd – House of Balloons, Wiz Khalifa – Rolling Papers (Deluxe)

The little black backpack will be full of the stuff I can’t take on a plane and checked-in.

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Animal Behavior: Collective Movement and Shapeshifting

Animal behavior is fascinating – how are thousands of birds or fish able to communicate with each other well enough to swirl and bank in perfect harmony, creating vortexes, undulating lines, and spheres. The underlying theory is that individuals take cues from their neighbors on where to move next. This collective movement acts as a survival mechanism by keeping the group safe from predators and weeding out weaker individuals regaled to the periphery.

Invasive to North America, settlers released 100 European Starlings in Central Park in 1890. Since then, their population swelled to over 200 million. We call starling formations “murmurations” and fish formations “schools”.

Compare bird and fish formations to collective human movement… for us it’s called a stampede and usually kills people. Some may argue there is evidence of collective movement in large urban centers but rarely is the entire group traveling together, except in a parade or rally, and never executed so well.

Source: Audubon Magazine and Ecology Magazine


I just booked a flight to NYC for my birthday in July! This might have to be an annual trip – I have been in July at least 4 times since 2007.

New York is a great example of population density, public transit, architectural styles, racial and linguistic diversity and large central parks. I could lose myself in the city more than once a year but for now that’s all the time and money I have.

Savannah, GA

I was in Savannah over a long weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. The layout of this city, America’s first planned city, is superb for getting around town quickly – especially on a bike. (It was a little rough on the cobblestones but next time I might take a wide, knobby-tread bike instead of my old road bike.)

The downtown area is divided into wards – each intended to be its own self-sustaining urban neighborhood.  The ward was cut into 8 blocks, surrounding a central public square. Today, the square serves as a roundabout making the city bike and pedestrian friendly while keeping stop signs and lights to a minimum. If you lived and worked downtown there would be no need for a car. Forsyth Park lies at the southern end of downtown. I caught a rugby match, had a few beers (open container laws) and read a book while people were playing ultimate frisbee, tennis and basketball.

The main tourist spots are crowded but once you find the way around the squares and onto side streets it quiets down, leaving time to coast and building-watch. I’ve only been in the fall and spring but I can’t imagine it being too hot during the summer because huge gnarled oaks lining the streets and in covering the squares.

*map from savannahmeetings.com