Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well, really only FOUR days in the country...

I'm back a bit early from the meditation retreat. I'll tell you why in another post soon. In this post, I'd like to talk about my ride home from the retreat site.

Because I left early, I had to scratch for a ride. The retreat organizer arranged one, I'm pleased to say, but the journey did not promote the inner quiet the teachers had in mind.

I rode home with a young lady who had done these retreats before. She did her first one in Tibet, a 10-dayer, she said, and she's done several shorter retreats as refreshers since. 

We're not talking about an airhead here. We're talking about a young woman in her mid-twenties I'd say, of at least some seriousmindedness - interested (if not in spiritual pursuits) certainly in the examined life.

We hopped right into her late model, very dirty Volvo sedan. I was afraid almost immediately. 

She drove with her phone in her left hand and her instructions on how to reach the retreat site in her right, only dropping the instructions to fool with the radio or CD player. 

She lives in metro Denver not far from Tamar's and my place, but she had no idea where we live. East and west were unfamiliar terms. She knew streets near her home but was lost elsewhere. I offered to navigate. She turned me down. 

She seldom drove with both hands and full attention. More often she manipulated the phone, studied the instructions and changed radio stations or swapped CDs, concerned that she was choosing music that I'd enjoy. 

While she did those things, tasks that were clearly priorities, she did not or could not drive in a straight line. She would veer over the center line or cross the fog line onto the shoulder. Three times she jerked the wheel to center the car on the road, apologizing to me each time.

At one point she said: I guess I shouldn't get into an accident with you in the car, meaning me. 

When we reached I-25, she used the left-hand lane primarily, following too close and continuing to look at her phone or radio or CD player. Once or twice, traffic slowed in front of us; she did not notice until we were scarily close to rear-ending the car in front. 

I thought of myself on my bicycle or motorcycle, sharing the road with this woman and her like-minded contemporaries, overwhelmingly more intent on selecting the perfect CD than they are on their driving. 

They are not troubled by guilt or embarrassment because of their misplaced attention; they're driving just as they always drive - really badly, really dangerously. And they aren't even aware of it. That's the frightening part. They don't know any different.

Often in cars, I feel the inertia, the resistance of the huge vehicle to slow down or stop, especially on busy freeways or on narrow city streets. I suspect that the drivers are not attentive, not exercising due care. Their minds are elsewhere. 

But Tamar and I are not in cars often. We walk in the city and ride on the bike paths. We can forget, I'm happy to say, how common incompetence is behind the wheel. 

When we cyclists and motorcyclists remind one another to "take care," we may not hear the seriousness behind the phrase. We've got to take care; our neighbors couldn't care less.

Let's be cautious out there, huh?  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ten days in the country...

I am leaving tomorrow for a tiny town not far from Denver, where I will participate in a meditation retreat - in silence, for 10 days. I've never done anything like this, and I'm a bit apprehensive but I'm going for it - in the quietest way.

I'll be out of contact at the retreat: No phone, no computer. No pencil or paper.

If I have stories about the experience and it seems appropriate to tell them here on my blog page, I'll do that. If it were someone else's page and the writer made such an announcement, I'd be interested in his/her comments afterward. I'm having trouble imagining what I might have to tell you that wouldn't sound like a string of psychobabble cliches. 

I'll be home on the 30th, same old dude. I guess....

Chris Hoy vs Lewis Hamilton? For real...?

I read this Bike Radar piece through twice trying to make sense of it, trying to imagine how a guy on a bicycle, no matter how talented and fit, could lap a road-race course as fast as a Formula One car driven by a champion. Take a look. See what you think....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Twenty-five degrees for the Toy Run

It's almost eight. At nine, 200 scooterists will meet at our local Vespa (plus Triumph, Ducati etc) store to ride en mass to the Ronald McDonald House - bearing gifts. Nice for the kids, but sadly for the fingers and toes of the scooter riders, it's 25 out there. 

I remember doing the same ride last year but I don't recall the below-freezing temps. Maybe it was just as cold and I've forgotten: My memory focusing on the fun, not the discomfort.

Winter is upon us in Denver, snow yesterday morning and sub-freezing nights. Time to get out all the cycling and motorcycling winter stuff - the mittens, scarves and booties... 

This is a difficult time o' year for me, after decades in California and Arizona. I don't mind the cold so much, but when the roads and sidewalks get icy I grow fearful. Maybe the snow will melt within hours of falling, as we were told it would. I'll keep my fingers crossed inside my mittens.

My surgeon says I have lots of new bone on my femur. Healing well. I told him I was limping (walking like a penguin, says Tamar) so he gave me a new exercise to strengthen a muscle that had shrunk, I guess. Three months was all it took. My butt is half-size at this point, no kidding.

I've got to run, got to put on 23 layers of cold-weather motorcycling stuff. Because I know it's important to you, I promise to say hi to Ronald for each of you. I'd want you to do it for me...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A soulful, literate attorney cycle-commutes in Philly - from Orion Magazine

This is a sweet essay from Orion, a magazine I'd never heard of, but that I'm happy to have discovered. I'll bet you enjoy David Perlman's piece...  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ride a bicycle? Wish you lived in Portland?

Here's more evidence that cycling is more popular than ever and showing no sign of losing its appeal in not-always-sunny Portland OR. It's just undeniable: Portland rocks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Is speeding okay? Is the other guy the problem?

Here's another link to a provocative NY Times piece. The comments are well worth reading...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bike Sharing in Europe - from the NY Times

Inexpensive bike-sharing in several European countries, according to this NY Times article, is not just successful - it's wildly successful. Why wouldn't it work here? Well...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is everybody happy? Rated R

These emails will look a mess; I've left them in as-sent form. GMail saves emails in "conversations," so these are in order as sent. 

Here's how I got on this list: I responded to a for-sale ad months ago from the guy from Cheyenne, P.C. He was short and surly in his email responses to my questions. I forgot about him - until Tue, Nov 4th, when his note went out to perhaps 100 addresses. 

Oh, I did not correct spelling or grammar in any of these notes. I did insert two asterisks (*).

Sent: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 11:27 pm
Subject: support
our country is in distress, our way of life is about to change, we have been a free people and live by a certain way of life, now we will be more than a minority, laughed at by the rest of the world.
Now I have nothing against other races, but I can profile a person very well. He's an ego maniac, a liar, a half breed muslim, doesn't like whites very much, very friendly with the terrorist side of the world-i could not care if the president was purple, this man is going to f**k us.
If you are one of those how voted and supported our new HAGI President, than shame on you and don't even bother write back with some stupid explanation of why. All I can say to you is --you better learn how to get on your knees and face east.
I will be flying our U.S. Flag upside down in protest against our newly elected president.
Stand up, be heard, for what you believe in  even if it is silent(a symbol) 
If this offends you,to bad 
Cheyenne   Wyoming Territory

   Sorry you feel so bad about our new legally elected president and can not support him and what this country was founded on. The Popular and Electoral votes have been counted and it seems as if the majority of the country is ready for a change. 
   I supported Pres. Bush even after he stole the election in 2000, losing the popular vote and some shady votes in Fla. (funny how his brother was governor) I supported an idiot as president who took this country from having a coalition of the willing to being on our own on the war against terrorism. I supported him when he said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and took our troops out of Afghanistan and directed them on a deadly never ending quest for the spreading of "democracy". But I supported him and my country. I supported him when my friends and coworkers in the reserves (yes military) were sent over there on his and his administrations need for "security". And watched when they came back wounded and disillusioned about the motives of the mission. These same members of the military who voted for McCain, but told me that if Obama wins they will support him BECAUSE his is the president of the USA.
   And now that we have a president elect. who wants to restore our dignity, our proper place in the world, I only hope that people will give him a chance. If we were wrong then we will vote him out.
   I am sorry P you feel this way, I thought better of you, and would have more respect for you if you would just say I don't like him because he is a nigger. If you at least said that I would have no argument yes he is an African American and that is based on fact, but your argument is based on exaggerated rumors and innuendoes. 
  P, I know we haven't seen each other in many years, but I believe that 4 years from now we will be safer and more secure, the nation will still be here. My God, your God, Allah or who ever is out there, will not have smitten me from this world and committed me to Hades to burn for eternity for having had hope in a change. If I am wrong well at least I felt that I was doing good on earth and I wouldn't want to be in "that" heaven any way.
  Maybe then we can talk again.
Peace J

From Mr S: I don't support him either.  I have no president at this time!

From j: But you are happy to make a living selling training on a commy rifle, kinda hypocritical no?

From S:  Hardly....freedom is freedom...even if it comes from a former member of the Spetznas teaching americans how to run rifles its govermment is afraid of.  Why am I even on this mailing list???

From j: One more thing Mr S, how many people named Abul, Achmed etc with cash in hand have you trained? Or do you only train US citizens with proper papers on the Kalashnikov, also known as the terorist woepon of choice. Let me show you my budies wounds

From S: First of all butt-breath, spell my name right. I don't teach anyone who wears diapers on their heads (or jackboots).  But while we are at it, at least I have more respect for them than I do the commie liberals that got Obama (excuse me while I spit) elected.  Now why don't you people simply eliminate me from this silly mailing list?? 

From G: Now, now people, stop the bickering.  I believe we live in a free country and are entitled to our own opinions and beliefs.  I usually don’t reply to such emails, however, this one irked me. 

J, have you ever participated in a war?  Have you ever been a POW?  Do you have children?  Any individual who has served in a war and has endured and survived the viciousness of being a POW, IN MY OPINION, has more integrity, respect, experience, character and honor to be a leader of MY COUNTRY.  You’ve “watched when they came back wounded and disillusioned”.  I have very vivid memories of the 60’s, the men who died unnecessarily for our country, those who returned in body bags.  I have two sons, one who will be turning 18 very shortly, and I say this with honesty and with all my heart - - I love my sons and my life with them more than ANY piece of land.  That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it! 

You say you supported Bush but yet you call him an idiot; please try to make a definite decision, one that you truly believe in; not just because you have to.  You do have the freedom of choice; we all have that privilege.  You rather base a decision on the “N” word than to just converse and compare opinions?  (When did it become politically correct to use the “N” word again?)  (I would much rather refer to him as a spoiled snot nose brat.)  Again, make up your mind.  Do you support the newly elected president, or not? 

Here’s another one of my opinions – these candidates raise a disgusting amount of money (70 million +) to campaign.  If just half of that money was given to the homeless, that person would have received my vote.  There should not be any campaigning allowed at all for any office; no brochures in the mail, no infomercials, no debates, no signage.  Instead, we the people, should be informed of who is running and, we the people, should research the candidates on our own and come to our own personal free choice based on the data and knowledge obtained (most of which is at our fingertips). 

You should be ashamed of yourself that you are unable to carry on a conversation (maybe even a heated one); it’s not an attractive character at all.  Friendships shouldn’t be in danger because of our privilege of freedom of speech.  Personally, I don’t give a shit who voted for whom but I certainly care that I still have the freedom NOT to support the elected. 

So stop the bickering, get a grip, live your life – it’s only an opinion.  In other words, it’s FREEDOM. Try a little harder to keep the peace,   G 


From Y: get me off this list. immediately

From C: Get me off this list immediately.

From N: Me too please.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not just cyclists: It's runners too!

Here's a link to a NY Times Online piece about friction between runners and their neighbors in cars. Set aside your skepticism. According to the Times, it's true: Drivers get angry at runners, especially if they've just hit one.

The article suggests that it's not entirely the fault of the drivers. An expert tells runners that a mindset shift may be in order. After all, even with a cool new president-elect promising change, we're probably not going to change driver behavior. We'll have to look elsewhere; perhaps, grasshopper, into ourselves.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I didn't realize...and maybe you don't...

When you post a comment to one of my blog postings, I get an email at my personal email address showing me what you've said. It does not reveal your email address, so I cannot write you personally. I can only post a comment below yours - or write a post like this one explaining why you have not heard from me.

My personal email address is

If you've been posting comments on my blog site, please continue to do so. If you feel that I must not care about you or what you say because I have not responded, please reconsider. If you like, post the comment for all to read, and send it to me via the above address so I can write back. 

The two coolest things about doing this blog have been hearing from folks with whom I'd had no contact for decades - and reading comments from bright, thoughtful people, some known to me, others only cryptic cyber-names.

Thanks, all of you...