Monday, February 6, 2012

I Love My Bike

I just want to write about how much I love my bike today. I feel like I've been on a second honeymoon, now that Eurynome is all fixed up and ready to roll. (Well, except for some minor tweak-y issues with the derailers and the rear brake.)

Last Saturday, it was so gorgeous outside that I had to continue riding all day long. I started my day by riding up Fig and the evil hill on Colorado to a "Yoga Booty Ballet" class in Pasadena. The class itself was very fun, but didn't incorporate as much ballet as I expected from the title, and didn't really integrate the dance with the yoga at all. I then decided to take a chance on a new route home- down Ave 64 from Colorado instead of Figueroa. The street is wide, well paved, and totally gorgeous, with lots of trees and beautiful big houses. Plus, the back hill up to No Manor is longer, but easier than the evil front side of Mt. Grommet.

After hanging out through the hottest hours of the day, I hopped back on my bike to explore LA the same way I've explored Seattle, Portland, and Calgary this summer- by wandering aimlessly and seeing what there is to see. I ended up stumbling onto the route outlined here by Josef of the Flying Pidgeon. I took this route in reverse from Marmion Way to Ave 39, but continued down Griffin through Lincoln Heights and onto the Broadway Bridge to downtown. I spent a long time hanging out in the park at Ave 60- there's a really cool bridge there.

The rest of the park is surprisingly spacious and pretty, given that it's crammed in next to the freeway. There's a perfect tree for hangout and reading under, too.

I rode into downtown as the sun set, lighting up that awesome skyline with the gorgeous colors only LA's smog filled sunsets produce. And cutting a path through those same enormous buildings in the twilight was quite fun.

I then took 6th street out to the Pan Pacific Park area. I was dumped back into the traffic that really requires full attention just as the stars were coming out. There's something about watching the sky as the stars begin to appear, one by one, that's just magical.

Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech haolam, hamav'dil bein kodesh l'chol, bein or l'chosech.
Blessed are you our Gd, Lord of the Universe, who separates between the profane and the holy, between the light and the darkness. (image of the ISS, from someone else's site)
I locked my bike to Rosie's car for dinner at Swinger's before driving home. Hey, I'm out of shape, all those miles hurt. But I really appreciate those days when I go on dates with my favorite person in the world- my bike.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Letter's Follow Up

See? The bike polo community's awesome.

Notice anything different today? No more Venus symbols! Just the referee one, which I'm proud to have by my name. (TWO players requested that I ref their games at DPI last weekend. /bragging.)

And for an unregistered user as well- no more automatic listing as male.

Success! No fuss, just a bit more egalitarian.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Write Letters

I'm so excited to finally be using this title!

So as most polo players are already aware, there's a new website in town: It's being used to track team and player statistics throughout the major tournaments of the season, and act as a registration tool for tournament organizers. While there are some technical and design issues which could be debated, my problem is with the site's presentation of gender.

[click to enlarge]
This is a screencap of the registration page for the Desert Polo Invite, taken on 2/3/12. Notice anything yet?

How about on this page, where players are sorted by who's logged the most miles traveled?
That's right. Every woman on the site is followed around by a Venus symbol. There is no Mars symbol for the male players, because as we all know they'rethenormalonesamirite? As such, this extra line of coding is seriously Othering to the women of bike polo.

Which brings me to my next point. There are only two choices on the 'gender' tab of a player's profile, as shown above. The default for all players when they first sign up for the website is male. I found this very offensive, and immediately changed my gender to reflect my personal identity. But now I find myself stuck in this catch-22, where I must either be disingenuous to my chosen gender identity, or be forever marked as Different from the other players on the site.

So earlier today, I sent Zach (who built the site) this letter:

Hey Zach,

I would like to request that you remove the coding that places a Venus symbol next to the names of every user listed as female on the website. Several other players and I have discussed the matter, and we find it to be an offensively unnecessary demarcation. We believe that the women of bike polo should be able to be viewed equally and not alienated from their peers.

In addition, we would like to request that you make the default player “unspecified” in gender. The default human is not male, and it is unfair to support the patriarchal assumption that this is the case.