All posts by Notaw

Story from the road

So I had taken my sister and her boyfriend along for a bike ride following the motorway construction that I have been photographing since last summer. It was a beautiful evening, one of those marvelous Danish summers. A pale blue sky inhabited by a couple of lone clouds.

We had biked from Lystrup to Skødstrup to look at the beginning of the motorway. The work on the road had come a long way since my last visit this February. Back then the landscape was covered in snow, seemingly blending all the elements together. If only visually.

My fellow travelers seemed to enjoy themselves as they were biking along in their own tempo. On our way home, we stopped at a badly neglected little farmhouse. It must have been a beautiful place when it was actually a farm. Now the walls of the house were covered with graffiti and the grass was a couple of meters up in the air. My sister wanted to have a closer look.

We saw that the door to the main house was open, and you could hear the sound of running water. I decided to have a look inside. The entrance was littered with old advertisement leaflets and wet newspapers. It stank of decay. Not shit, but just a musty, heavy decay. It was moist. The walls and the carpets were wet, which made it pretty hard to breathe properly. The toilet looked like it hadn’t been used for a couple of years.

After my first inspection I waved them all over and we had a look inside. It was dark. No lights were on. In what used to be a living room there was a sofa. On it we found a couple of boxes full of papers. The small desk next to it was also full of papers. My sister had a closer look. Some of them were court papers, others bank statements—they seemed to be neatly organised. On the wall I found a framed wedding picture. I took it down to have a closer look and showed it to my sister. I was very excited and wanted to take it with me. She told me that I better not. I placed it back on the wall and eventually started taking a couple of photographs.

There was hardly any light and I didn’t have a flash with me. The others left the house, leaving me to take my pictures. I was fiddling with my camera. The card was full—forcing me to delete a couple of unwanted shots. I took some pictures of a rack full of old suits and a couple ties. The water is still running in the bathroom.

I leave the house and we are standing around outside chatting. I am telling my sister’s boyfriend some lame joke that I have just bought the house. We both pretend that it is funny. I mention the state of the bathroom to my sister and she decides to have a look for herself.

She walks back into the house and suddenly she is running out. “There is someone in there” she yells. I look up and a man with a full beard wearing a red sweater is standing looking quite bewildered. My sister is apologising to him. “We didn’t know that anyone was living in there”. I tell him that we were just talking in his courtyard and have done nothing wrong. He starts shouting that we must get the hell out of there. We all jump on our bikes. My chain falls of. The two of them are cycling away. I am fiddling with my chain. He doesn’t chase us.

Cycling home and looking behind us every 10 seconds, my sister explains that she was peeking into the bathroom when the door behind her opened. She panicked and ran. We look at each other with a mixture of laughter and shock.

All of a Sudden

So I had taken my sister and her boyfriend along for a bike ride following the motorway construction that I have been photographing since last summer. It was a beautiful evening, one of those absolute marvellous Danish summers. A pale blue sky inhabited by a couple of lone clouds. We had biked from Lystrup to Skødstrup to look at where the motorway starts. The work on the road has come a long way since my last visit this February. Back then the landscape was covered in snow, seemingly blending all the elements together. If only visually.
My fellow travellers seemed to enjoy themselves as they were biking along in their own tempo. On our way home, we stopped at a badly neglected little farmhouse. It must have been a beautiful place when it was actually a farm. Now it had graffiti and the grass was a couple of meters up in the air. My sister wanted to have a closer look. We saw that the door to the main house was open, and you could hear the sound of water running. I decided to have a look inside. The entrance was littered with old advertisement leaflets and wet newspapers. It stank of decay. Not shit, but just a musty, heavy decay. It’s moist. The walls and the carpets were wet, which quickly made it difficult to breathe properly. The toilet looked like it hadn’t been used for a couple of years.
After the first inspection I was waving them all over and we had a look inside. It is dark inside. No lights are on. In what used to be a living room there was a sofa. On it we found a couple of boxes full of papers. The small desk next to it is also full of papers. My sister had a closer look. Some of them were court papers. Others bank statements – seemingly organised as well. On the wall I find a framed wedding picture. I take it down. I am showing it to my sister. I am very excited. I want to take it with me. She says I better not. I put it back onto the wall and eventually start taking a couple of photographs. There’s hardly any light and I don’t want to use any flash. The others leave the house. I am fiddling with my camera. The card is full. I am deleting unwanted shots and take some pictures of a rack full of old suits and a couple ties. The water is still running in the bathroom.
I leave the house and we are standing around outside chatting. I am telling my sister’s boyfriend some lame joke that I have just bought the house. We both pretend that it is funny. I mention the state of the bathroom to my sister and she decides to have a look for herself.

She walks back into the house and suddenly she is running out. “There is someone in there” she yells. I look up and a man with a full beard wearing a red sweater is standing looking quite bewildered. My sister is apologising to him. “We didn’t know that anyone was living in there”. I tell him that we were just talking in his courtyard and have done nothing wrong. He starts shouting that we must get the hell out of there. We all jump on our bikes. My chain falls of. The two of them are cycling away. I am fiddling with my chain. He doesn’t chase us. Cycling home and looking behind us every 10 seconds, my sister explains that she was peeking into the bathroom when the door behind her was opened. She panicked and ran. We look at each other with a mixture of laughter and shock.

A versus B

I spend a lot of time reading posts on Airliners dot net. Most of them are a constant verbal wars between Airbus and Boeing fans. Today someone finally posted something interesting on the subject:

Boeing planes like to crash Airbus is waaaaaay better. I have a friend that’s a pilot. He said Boeing is made bad and Airbus is bestest plane ever. They fly really fast and high abd Boeing always crashes on the earth. He also said Airbus is way safer cause they have totally computer cockpit so advanced and the autpilot can do anything that Boeing can not do. Like a340 can fly farther than any 737 and the A320 can land in runway that 747 can’t. And A380 is the best plane ever and hold more people than a 717. Boeing planes have way more crashes than airbus. Boeing is garbage plane. I won’t fly Boeing not even first class. In Boeing, first class people die first. That’s why they call it first class on Boeing. Airbus people have parachutes in first class. And better food. And supersonic speed and get there waaaay faster than stupid 747. And Airbus has gun to shoot bad guys like a battleship and can shoot laser beam at to kill Boeing like in Star Wars. My frind told me that.

Jeffery
Age 9

interchange “Airbus” with “Boeing” and it still is a compelling argument for manufacturere supremacy.

The Road is my Friend

Some thoughts on navigating the street of London on a bicycle

This summer in London, a couple of weeks before the underground explosions propelled people to above ground transportation I finally got around to fixing a bike that had kindly been donated to me. I got the brakes changed, the tires were pumped up to around 100psi, I tightened the steering column and I was more or less ready to take on the streets of London. It was and still is a rusty old ladies bike, completely operational and quite charming.

Having feared the traffic of London for good reason, I slowly started to explore the streets. Watching from the sidelines in the beginning trying to figure out how it all worked.

At this point it’s probably a good idea to explain a couple of things. I am not new to riding a bicycle; I have done that for years and with great success. Crashed a couple of times, mostly self-inflicted and alcohol related. One thing is cycling along the sea on a dedicated cycle lane in Denmark, another is navigating the London traffic network.

Here it’s a whole other game. No bike lanes and loads of traffic. Buses up to 18 meters in length, double-deckers, white unmarked cars and vans, motorcycles, police cars and whining ambulances. It’s a bloody nightmare, a mess where the queues sometimes stretch for more than a mile. Having relied on public transportation for years it was a bit of miracle finally to realise just how easy it was to get around on a bike.

As with something like this I started out slowly. First exploring an area I knew very well, getting to know the streets, memorising the traffic patterns of roundabouts. Ever so slowly I expanded my area and I became more adventurous.

There is nothing quite like discovering something new that has always been possible. It’s a that tiny rush of adrenalin – knowing that you are always moving forward unlike your comrades stuck in their metal cars moving inches at the time.

With growing confidence I took on the streets, easily cycling from Brixton, hitting Clapham North in minutes, making a sharp left turn and cycling past Stockwell Station, where the Police only weeks later would kill the Brazilian electrician. Then onwards towards Oval and full speed ahead, overtaking busses and cars on the inside, then more of them lined up in a jam on the outside. Jumping up on the curb when there was no other way around something, and heading towards Waterloo station, swirling in and out of slow moving cars moving up in the queue before a red light, trying to balance the bike without stopping – then, amber – green. Full speed ahead and across Waterloo Bridge with the best view of London. On my left the London Eye and on my right the National Theatre which is beautifully illuminated at night – and I can see all the way down the Thames. Bloody fantastic.

Then into central London where speed drops dramatically and traffic worsens. Here it’s very easy to get lost especially down the one-way streets in Soho, and sometimes finding yourself going up the wrong way with traffic coming towards is not funny.

After the explosions the news was talking about a massive increase in cyclists – which has been very empowering. Often I find myself in small groups driving more or less the same route, all very civilised. No one talks to one another, but still there is a sense of a group dynamic, even if it’s only for a very brief moment. At night it’s even more surreal, with an ocean of blinking bike lights safely guiding you home after a long day’s work.

It is, however, not all sweet. One day I was trying to catch a train and biking rather fast down a small country where all the cars were patiently waiting for the traffic light to change. I took the chance and jumped the red light, something which I’ve done many, many times in London – where it’s not only essential but sometimes necessary. In the countryside they don’t like that kind of behaviour and seconds after doing it I was asked to pull over by a huge Volvo police car. Shit. They gave me all the crap you could possible imagine, but I kept thinking – I am the one on a bike, I am the fragile individual making my way through the traffic, one wrong move by a car and I could be thrown off my bike, unprotected. Anyway to make a long and rather sad story short they just threatened me, I was never given a ticket.

From then onwards I was a bit more careful – still am, no need to unnecessarily have an encounter with the police. Speaking of safety here are a couple of useful suggestions:

- Have really good brakes. Tune them weekly.
- Wear a helmet.
- Lights at night are good.
- Always drive to the front of queued cars waiting at a traffic stop.
- Never hesitate. Hesitation will kill you.
- Never follow another cyclist.
- Be really good at accelerating.
- Dress appropriate. Lycra is not the only way.

Today I unfortunately learned about one of the bigger downsides of biking in London. Bikes get stolen. I came back from a lecture to find my lock snapped off and my bike gone. At the same time a fine chap was doing a survey on stolen bikes right there. He’d been monitoring the area to see how many bikes were stolen. He’d seen my bike earlier and we talked about it and what could be done. Not much was the short answer, these bicycle thieves are very sophisticated and can unlock almost any lock in seconds. Predictably they all sell them at the same place a Sunday market in Bricklane. This weekend I hope to go up there to perhaps buy back my bike, or maybe team up with a bunch of friends who are good with baseball bats. Either way, I have a backup bike and I am back unto the streets of London tomorrow morning, come rain come shine.

Young Live

Are you in New York then here’s your chance to see John Young of Cryptome.org live. He’s speaking at The World Policy Institute at The New School in a panel discussion with Robert Windrem, Producer at NBC News. It’s been titled THE SECRET WORLD OF GLOBAL EAVESDROPPING, it sounds like it could be an interesting evening.

This discussion will also be webcast.