Thursday, December 20, 2007

Life's rich texture

Thursday spinning, prowling for Friday

Hectic, determined, undeterred

Not caring to be one day

Short of a full week

Long night of a late December

Dark from night,

Light from snow

Short of a full year

Raucous skiing, silent in the woods

Heartbeat, deep breaths in

The twilight reaches out

Short, in a full life

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bike -vs- express bus

Yesterday I rode to work even though there was a prediction for significant snow. I rationalized that worst case I could always throw my bike on the bus rack and bus home in the evening if the snow seemed like too much to ride in. I left work early just to give myself a bit of an edge on dealing with the snow which had been falling quite heavily all afternoon. When I pulled out of the parking garage (indoor, heated... I will miss this company when my contract ends this month!) the traffic was completely stopped. Gridlock was in full force with no more than one car clearing an intersection per green cycle. Cars were pointed every which way as each tried to beat the other for the best position in the traffic snarl and most of the drivers were in fact snarling at each other. Not me! I twisted and turned between them all as I rode merrily along, slower than my usual pace but at a steady pace roughly one block forward motion for each car length of forward motion my snarling neighbors were making. So I smiled at them all and happily peddled along. The bus stop where I would catch the bus, should I decide not to ride home, is about four blocks from my office. I had traffic radio on quietly in one ear and was hearing that it wasn't going to get any better so even though I arrived at the bus stop at the same time as the express bus I would ride did, I just kept on peddling. It ended up taking me something under an hour which is more than twice my usual time but what a great ride. Of course when I got home, I had to shovel so I ended up with quite a workout, all of it with a smile on my face. This morning I woke up and was a bit tired partly from yesterday's workout and partly from fitful sleep about my contract ending and not having another one on the horizon. In any event, I decided it would be a bus day. I bought a Go To Card last May and put $100 in it. If you don't know, this is a card where you prepay and then when you ride it gets deducted from the balance. When I bought it I thought it would be great if I made it to October before I had to replenish it. Well I have missed very few bike commuting days and even though I have used it a few times for non-commuting trips, this morning it registered a balance of $79 after charging me the $2.75 express fare. It's been a good run for commuting but it's only going to get better. See it took over an hour on the express bus this morning and when I passed over the trial I normally ride, there was no traffic on it at all. The time I spent this morning actually on the bus (which was of course late...) was more than I ever spend riding to work AND showering. Don't get me wrong here, I like taking the bus sometimes but today I would have gotten to work quicker and more refreshed if I had ridden. The message I'm taking away is that when the going gets rough, ride the bike! Now if I can just figure out how to keep my glasses from fogging up when I ride in the cold I will be set...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Car 222, Bike about 300

So I started keeping track of my car mileage a few months back figuring I would compare bike vs car and then my bike computer broke so I can only guess the bike mileage. In October I only drove the car 155 miles, 210 in September and 222 in November. Like some others in the bloggesphere, I am just making small changes that affect my life. I am not trying to save the world but then if everyone made this kind of small change it would change the world. I rode today, first snow ride of the season, and it was pretty uneventful. Took about the same amount of time, perhaps a little longer but not so much as to notice. The bike lanes were all gone since the streets weren't plowed to the curb yet and the bike count in the office bike rack was down from around twenty last Friday to six today. Tomorrow snow is predicted again and it may be snowing when it's time to leave and I just may ride the bus. The express bus that comes by two blocks from my house takes almost exactly the same amount of time as it does to ride but it's not as fun. Either way the car will stay in the garage...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Two views of stupidity

So I realize at about 7:30 on Friday night that we are nearly out of cat food and since I worked from home, hadn't gotten a lick of exercise. Seeing as how Chuck & Don's is only around 4 miles away, I jump on my bike, pack on my back to go pick up food for the kitties. It's around 10 degrees with a slight breeze and I have a lovely ride there and on my way back I pass a building on the Midtown Greenway Trail where two people are standing outside the door in shirtsleeves, clearly freezing their butts off. At first I don't know what they are doing out there so clearly not dressed for the conditions so I am looking at them trying to figure it out when I realize they are looking back at me with the same level of puzzlement on their faces. While I am riding by on the trail in perfect comfort, they are freezing their butts off to take the opportunity to stick burning leaves in their mouths. And then I start to chuckle as I realize we are sharing a thought bubble in this cold dark night: "If that isn't the most stupid thing I have ever seen..."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Degrees 7, Pleasure 10; I'm winning!

When I went to bed the prediction was 14 for a low, wind chill around zero. When I checked in the AM it was 7 and falling with a wind chill of -10. I was wishing my Lake winter boots had arrived but they haven't. It was OK though I was slightly overheated when I arrived at work and other than fogging up glasses, had no problems getting to work. Well except for the fact that my lovely morning ride ended in downtown Mpls. and at the start of another very long day in the belly of the beast but that's another story.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My Muse

My muse
makes many moments meaningful, melancholy
Monday maybe
manufactures more machinations mundane, miserable
Mostly mired marshes
make musty methane memories
Muttered mumblings
might mash mindful morons
Or not

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Jim & Jane

There are few times over the course of one’s life that the awesome power of pure beauty strikes your heart and takes your breath away. Fewer times yet that you get to watch it rolling and growing knowing it’s good and then get to see it suddenly blossom more spectacular than your high expectations conceived.

I’ve listened to music perhaps more deeply than most. Pursued it as my lifestyle and my living but didn’t have the maturity or courage to see it through. There were other battles to be fought that I had no clue were coming at the time but turn out to have been the right path for me. It did, however, crystallize in me the utmost respect for those can and do see it through.

I have been enjoying the talent of such a soul for better than forty years. I even had the honor of tossing my riffs in the same wind for quite a few years back in the day. So there’s no surprise when the next chapter unfolds with greater strength and maturity. No surprise to find this soul connected to another of parallel depth and talent pushing relentlessly to perfect their art. No surprise that others are noticing too.

We all grow and live or stagnate and die. We can’t change those rules; we can only adapt. Those with vision and strength thrive; those without miss the opportunity to enrich both their own lives and those lives they chance to touch.

I’ve been hearing some of the new tunes and waiting for the new CD that will carry them home with me where I can savor them in my own space, my own time as I have with their first. Good music always touches me, great music moves me but just every once in a while it grabs me by the lapels, pulls me out of my chair and pushes me into a universe previously unavailable to me.

Now when Bach’s Ave Maria builds dissonance with sweet counterpoint then resolves in a grand crescendo and stops my heart or the Carter Family brings tears to my eyes, I’m prepared for it since their legend precedes my hearing. When someone whose music I have been enjoying for most of my life puts out a better then average performance, it warms my heart. When that performance is catapulted forward by songwriting of unconceivable depth and grace, words fail me but I’m really happy to be alive.

This CD is an amazing work of art with so many fantastic pieces but at the top is “A Dodger’s Prayer” which surpasses the Carter family for melodic line and John Prine for lyrical richness. It's quite clear that Jim and Jane are on the "grow and live" branch of the tree and we are all richer for it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Riding like I never will...

But ain't it great that someone else does? Well as these things sometimes happen, the YouTube video is gone. The video showed some really wild riding out in Whistler with one dude following another over very long, narrow bridges, often with breaks between where they jumped from one narrow bridge to another. I would never even think of trying such things but how fun to watch!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What does it mean?

Sometimes the message is clear but accidental

Sometimes not so much

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

150 MPG!

I don’t think about it anymore, I just do it. I moved closer to work a few months back, from 18 miles each way to 6 and committed to full time bicycle commuting. I took the bus once, my first day in the new house, but have otherwise not missed a day. I rode two or three times a week from the old place but it took more time than I had to ride everyday so I drove part way and took the train the rest of the way. At first it seemed like a big deal to ride everyday. I had been in the habit of bringing my work clothes on the drive/train days but when you ride everyday that option goes away so I had to figure out how to manage with no petroleum power. Turns out not to be nearly as difficult as I had feared. Business clothes folded around a 10” by 12” stiff plastic board (a flexible plastic cutting board trimmed to roughly the size of the cardboard that comes inside new dress shirts –don’t forget to round the corners and sand off any sharp edges…) arrive at work much the same as they left home. Oh it’s not without changes. I upgraded my pack to be able to carry enough clothes for the better part of a week. This was the best investment in my cycling gear yet. I can even carry my laptop in it when need be and unlike the cycling specific models, it centers the weight on my hips and leaves my back completely ventilated. Anyway, since I don’t think about it, it didn’t occur to me that riding home might be a problem on the day I donated blood. Not, that is, until I was wired for harvest and was handed a small innocent sheet of paper titled AFTER YOU DONATE which informed me that I must “avoid over-exertion or strenuous exercise for 12-24 hours”. Did I mention that since my ride is only six miles, barely enough to get warmed up, that my routine is to ride hard and sprint at the end? Well OK, I don’t have to ride hard but it is slightly uphill and there was a pretty stiff headwind so there was a certain amount of effort required just to get home. So it all worked out OK though I was about a 50 mile ride tired when I got home. The point of this story is that while I was lying there in the capable hands of the phlebologist, it occurred to me that I no longer think about bicycling to work as my only transportation. I just do it. It’s no longer different or unique. It’s not a big deal; it’s just how I get to and from work. So I think to myself, how many others could ditch their car and ride their bike to work everyday? What would happen if suddenly lots of folks no longer thought about riding their bicycles to work but just did it? With the recreational rides I do above my commute, I ride nearly 800 miles a month but only drive my car around 200 which takes roughly 12 gallons a month. So just for fun I did the math and it turns out that I am getting around 83 miles per gallon. If I take out the special trip miles that aren't happening anymore (which is about 100 miles), it would be only 6 gallons a month or 150 mpg! And I don’t even think about it, I just do it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Drafting Dragonflies

Summer’s here, roadies swarm the pavement Small clutches of carbon, scandium, aluminum, ti Rolling smoothly, glistening flesh in the sunshine Sweet whirring of gears shifting through the wind

Click, click, click

We are all alone out here together Grabbing a wheel, Pulling through the breeze Grinding up the hills at our own pace

Grind, huff, click

Slingshot as we may, cluster as we must Expanding each to our own limits A spotty paceline but always returning Swarming to defeat the wind

Whish, huff, rest

Today we were joined, our lycra swarm By dragonflies playing on our currents Grabbing our draft, darting in formation Spinning off on their own pleasure cruise

Playing, flying, free

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Life 2.0 in full production

It’s been a long road. Inventing a life is never easy, harder still when the old one must be systematically destroyed to obtain the raw materials for the new one. As I traverse my life, I realize I am building the bridge upon which I walk across the chasm and dismantling the bridge behind me to recycle my past into my future. It’s a tricky construction project because the foundation must be maintained or the whole experiment falls into the abyss.

After many years of marriage, I realized I was dying. Not the immanent death you could see if your car was sliding towards a cliff and you at least knew it was time for taking preventative action. No, it was more like the glacial pace of growing up in Love Canal where years, even decades passed as the toxins invaded slowly, steadily. For me it was marital monoxide, a one way corrosion eating away at my spirit, my vitality, my life.

I don’t always take care of myself as I should, raised in the Christian tradition of God first, others second, self last. I took the self last part and crafted a life of adaptation, subjugating my own desires to those perceived of others I chose to be close to. Now I don’t think being self-less is a bad thing but without getting my own oxygen mask on, I was starving myself and letting my own life slip away as I struggled to attach others’ oxygen.

But then I woke up.

I believe that happiness can be cut out of whole cloth. I know that satisfaction can be derived and self-worth maintained in the most hostile crucible shat out from the twisted depths of humanity’s darkest bowels. Viktor Frankl ripped the covers off the part of my psyche behind which this knowledge lived but mine was a more insidious demon; my liberty wasn’t taken from me, I systematically handed it over to someone else in the name of love. No, it wasn’t as horrific as the holocaust by any means but I volunteered for it; I thought I was acting in my best interest by acting in her best interest.

I missed the most important of life’s lessons: I failed to replenish my own reserves as I nurtured the reserves of my other.

Modeling is the process of creating a vision of something. Implementing the model doesn’t always work out as intended since the world is more complex than we have sensory capability to perceive but it always has an effect. When lives are joined, a model is agreed upon and the more the elements of the model are exercised, the more solid and self-perpetuating the model becomes. It’s nearly impossible to redraw the model once the vision becomes reality (which of course is why getting the model right is so important).

When I realized I was dying, that the model could only sustain one life, I was faced with a fork in my road. I could sustain the other until I expired or I could redraw the model so that I could sustain my own life. The options were as different as oil and water and could not be blended. In choosing to sustain my own life, my other believed that sustaining my life could only come at the expense of hers. True or not, that was the unintended truth of the model we had used for nearly twenty years. I roughed in my self-sustaining model some time in the last millennium but only recently completed Life 2.0 based on that model. It’s not perfect but it is sustainable and having survived what seems like a near-death experience makes life even sweeter than I had been able to envision. While the intent was to save my life, the richness now woven into my days is beyond what I could read in the model as I was developing it. Life 2.0 has been going for a while, perhaps it’s now 2.3 or 2.6 but that doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter is that Life version 2 is in full production and Life version 1 is no longer supported.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ice Bike!

After a winter with almost no snow, we seem to have gotten it all in one weekend and now Ice Bike is happy!Finally something to really sink those Nokian's into though they didn't help much for the parts where the snow was over the handlebars... OK and it would have been nice to have had Stella along for the ride. Nothin' quite like chasing along with a sweet young thing like her smoothing out the trail with her shocks and I swear she has more gears than I can even count. Funny though, how you can be without someone at some point, and still know you're more together than you can remember. Yup, Ice just thinks Stella's the cat's meow, just the thing you know.

Oh, and thinking about just the thing, there's no point shoveling out more of your driveway than you need so I stopped when there was just enough room to get my vehicle out!
No point spending energy shoveling that could go into riding...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Draining the city

It's Friday and the hoards are fleeing the city. They are all there; The young lady sobbing quietly in her seat, The homey subdued without his crew but with blood on his hands (what's up with that?!) The young executive wanna be still pouring over the last Blackberry messages The grubby cyclist trying to get some warmth between ride segments The cute young couple being glared at by the $800 suit The middle aged worker, tired beyond words from the long week (maybe a long weekend ahead...) Packed like sardines in the colorful tube rumbling steel on steel until Freedom at last as they depart silent but with purpose Spreading like the waves left behind a stone Skipping across smooth water Each to their own, riding their own waves Disbursing into their lives, thinning as they go Alone together as I watch them/us all depart I am melancholy today, wrought with cold Wishing I could hear the Grinding of my chain on the gears Forward, carrying me forward on Thin rubber tubes, a small cushion in a big world A big cushion in a small life, no smaller than anyone else’s But toiling away in the gears of the corporate machine Leaves me feeling small and wanting My gears where I can choose When to shift and make progress When to brake and breathe in life's splendor When to make no progress at all and Be propelled forward for the choice It’s Friday and I have fled the city I am all here; My quiet sobbing for life’s trials My hard confidence, caged and pacing with data on my hands My inner, dying executive used-to-wanna-be no longer giving a shit about the last messages of the day My restless pistons trapped by the cold dreaming of ride segments to come The dream of my sweetie in my arms caring not who sees, judges, indignates I am a middle aged worker Tired from life’s challenges Exhilarated by life’s potential Draining the city from my psyche Draining The City

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cold weather wimp - Inspired!

I just started a job in downtown Minneapolis last week and am riding the train, a very cool first for me. All well and good but I am really missing my bicycle commute. I don't handle the cold very well, too many frostbitten toes as a kid I guess, and I just can't keep them warm. I am, however, very heartened to see so many folks who are riding even though it's been below zero nearly every day for the past few weeks. I decided to count how many cyclists I saw but ran out of fingers every day, sometimes before I even got to downtown where the count goes up dramatically. With only one exception, cyclists have gotten on the train everyday (just in my car, I don't know about the other car!) for part of their commute. My new job will take 5 or 6 miles off my commute leaving me with only 12 or 13 miles and I am champing at the bit to get back into the routine. I can't defeat my biology but as soon as it gets up to the double digits, I gotta get back on two wheels. This time, I can add the train as part of my commute leaving me with only six miles to ride before my first option to jump on the train. My inspiration comes at the cold expense of those who never stopped riding and my thanks goes out to them!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I got things
Lots of things
Things to do this
Things to do that
Things from when I couldn’t do this
Things for when I had to do that
Things that prepared me for then
Things that reminded me of when
Things beget more things
If I just had that thing
If I could only find this thing
One more thing and I will be...
But wait,
Be what?
Why did I want to do this?
Why did I need to do that?
What did I need when I couldn’t do this?
Where was my heart when I had to do that?
How did my preparations leave me then?
Who did I think I would be when reminded of when?
When did begetting things beget me?
What if I just didn’t have that thing?
When should I stop looking for this thing?
How did I not see?
If I had one more thing,
I would just have
One more thing
And still not be

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Fantastic Tuesday

Everyone deserves that special day, a day where even things going wrong goes so right that you just have to smile. I had resolved that I wasn't going to be able to ride to work today since I had a 7:30 conference call and while it works well to attend on the cell in the car, I suspect attending from the saddle wouldn't work out. At least not without the right gear. I get in a great Nordic Track workout before I head out anyway so I am sailing on endorphins and fresh ground Espresso Roast...

The call was worth postponing my commute well not really because riding is always better than work. I work in an obscure area of data management and the call was with my peer group, my data buddies. Recognition is always good but chatting with folks from across the country who just get it and don't require any explanation is much better.

When I get to work, I have a great work session until my realtor's office calls. From almost no showings over the last few months, I can hardly go home since there are so many showings. All well and good, the market is picking up etc. but then I seem to be inundated with calls from recruiters dangling what seem to be the perfect job in front of me. Not just one but several, each sounding better than the last.

But, I am really pumped because tomorrow I ride
Ice Bike