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Friday, August 27, 2010

On Luckie Street

I've starting riding my bike as part of my regular commute to work.

For most of the past eight years, I have strung together three modes of transportation - foot, bus, and train - in various combinations. Sometimes I would walk to a bus stop, ride the bus to one of two train stations, take one train into Downtown Atlanta, change to another train to Midtown, then walk to my office at Georgia Tech.  Sometimes I would start by walking directly to the train, or sometimes I would end by riding a shuttle bus from Midtown onto campus, but then still have something of a walk to get to my office.

Years ago, I tried adding bicycle into the mix: ride to the station, take the bike on the train, change trains downtown, then ride from the train to my office. The thing is, the routes I followed are dominated by the short-but-steep hills that are typical of Atlanta, a fact pointed out to me this past summer by an employee of a local bike shop. Coming on to campus, I would ride - slowly, gasping - straight up Bobby Dodd Way, past the stadium. I came to think of it as Heartbreak Hill.

I also found I had to deal with elevators, which wasn't so bad at the two ends of the train commute, but could be a real problem when changing trains at Five Points during the morning rush.

After a couple of weeks of effort, I gave up and went back to walking to the bus stop.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hole in the Ground

This post is a little bit off-topic, but I suppose it has to do with normative questions that arise when a small group of people is forced by circumstance to inhabit a particular place.

I am thinking in particular of the 33 men trapped more than 2000 feet below ground in a Chilean copper mine, who have already survived for more than two weeks in what The New York Times this morning described as "a hot, stuffy chamber about 33 feet by 20 feet."  The effort now underway to get them out may take as long as four months, though some have held out hope for completing the rescue in less than one month.

However long it takes, there is a kind of existential horror in the miners' plight.  I thought immediately of Jean-Paul Sartre's play, No Exit, and so did at least one other person to whom I've spoken about the story.  Even if all 33 men remain healthy and well, the heat, the darkness, the accumulating filth, the frustration, the inescapable lack of privacy, will certainly start to take their toll within days.