Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Best Laid Plans, Future Must-dos in Barcelona

At  Montserrat Monastery, outside Barcelona. I didn't ride up there, this time

I felt car-sick on the tour bus most of the way up the twisty road, and after we passed about the third group of cyclists, which the guide felt compelled to comment on, "Too dangerous," I wanted to be cycling and not busing it up the mountain. Next time. Then I saw this trio up at the top, with that great background, and thought it would fit here on the blog. Guy in red is saying, "OK we got up here, now it's time to go the other way. Fast."

Next time, by bike. And then also this next photo, too. That goes on the must-do list, too, "ronda verda," a 73km ride that circumnavigates Barcelona. What a great trip. Must ride bicycle more next time, though.

Barcelona bike share, super-popular

La Sagrada Familia, got to back and see it when it's finished

Bike with your name on it, 7 Euros.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Overcoming Barriers with Bicycles

After the storm

After the storm last night, after the wind howled and the rain poured, this scene was repeated in various forms in many places. Branches sheered off, trees felled by the winds, leaves and branches everywhere.

I paused here to ponder this fallen branch not because it presented an insurmountable obstacle, but just because I like to pause and ponder. How should I, a cyclist, deal with this? I realized that my options were many, indeed, were many more than a typical motorist in a comparable situation. I could:

  • Try to power through by riding just to the left of center there, to see if I could just lift it over
  • Duck under, pull the bike through, maybe a bit awkward, but no big deal
  • Lay the bike totally down on its side, and slide it under
  • If the previous failed, because of lack of room, and I really had to get through, I might be able to lift if over, or
  • I might be able to disassemble the bicycle to varying degrees, pass the pieces over or under, and reassemble on the other side. I have tools.
  • Fashion some kind of wood cutting mechanism with whatever I might have, in order to resolve the problem not only for myself, but for others who pass here.
  • Go around and carry the bike through the canal water. Completely not recommended, but not totally impossible.
  • Rope up to the standing limb, tie off on the fallen limb, hoist it up out of the way.
  • Hang off the road side and pull the tree down onto the street instead of the bike path. Also not recommended.
  • Use my cell phone to call the City to make them aware of the blockage, ask their advice, and check on how long it might be before they would come out to clear it. If not too long, just wait it out, enjoy the afternoon, chat with other cyclists who might come along and be of a similar mindset, before or after trying some or all of the above.
  • Wait in this spot until another strong wind of exactly opposite strength and direction comes along and blows it out of the way.
  • Think more. Write some poetry. Set up a lemonade stand here.
  • Ask the ducks what to do. They appeared utterly unperturbed by the fallen branch.
After these ruminations, I turned around and went back the way I came. I had no actual purpose in continuing beyond the fallen branch that was more pressing than turning around, so I just turned around.

Nearby, down in the street

Meanwhile, down in the roadway, I spotted this fallen tree pushed off to the side awaiting final removal. I imagine that if / when it was stretched across the roadway, there was less motorist pondering, and more honking. Think of it: honking at a fallen tree. I'm certain of it. DO SOMETHING I'M LATE AND HAVE TO BE SOMEWHERE. I guess.

Picture me there in the rain, on my bicycle, handing out suggestion cards.

Let's open a lemonade stand.
Please write a haiku about the storm.
Write down ten ideas for dealing with the tree which do not involve honking or getting angry.
Consider riding a bicycle instead. It opens up options when faced with fallen trees.

This is temporary. Perhaps going around a different way will pose little or no real inconvenience, anyway, in the large scheme of things. Why not be of a peaceful and contented disposition when doing that? Perhaps wherever you came from has attractions equal to where you thought you were going, and heading back is just as good as going forward. 

A bolt of lighting. Maybe it was lightning that blew that streetlight right off the pole.

Somehow knocked off a tall light pole during the storm. Possibly by the fallen tree.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How High Should We Stretch, How Far Should We Go?

Quieting the voice of limits and stopping

How high should we stretch? How far should we go? Are the limits a greater force than the demands to do more? How great could we be? How much could we do? How far could we ride? How fast could we go? How happy could we be?

This voice: you should stop. You're tired. Just rest. There's no need to continue. It's too much. Close your eyes. Give in. Where does that voice come from?

Another voice: keep going. Stretch farther. Do more. Help. Give. Grow. Be. Love. Go beyond. Limits are only in the mind. Reach higher. Each day is a gift. Connect. Challenge. Listen. Strength. Where does that voice come from?

Why? Do what you can do, but how do you know what that might be if you don't try? Keep trying.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Leave It All in the Free Box at Kennedy Meadows

The acquisition of adapter plugs has exceeded the reasonable carrying capacity

In the book and movie Wild, the main character Cheryl Strayed, who is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, meets a man at a place called Kennedy Meadows who helps her understand that she is carrying way more stuff in her monstrous backpack than she really needs. He guides her to divide the stuff between what she really needs, and suggests that she can put whatever she doesn't need into the free box for other hikers, in case they might find those things useful.

Over the years of acquiring headphones, at some point, I began storing the 1/4" adapter plugs in a ziplock bag in my desk drawer, which captured my attention tonight right after watching the movie. Eight? Really? I have accumulated eight of these things?

How many 1/4" adapter plugs do I actually need? I hardly ever use one, let alone eight.

I feel like hiking the PCT some day. It's at least a possible on the bucket list. I think I'll make a necklace out of gold-plated 1/4" adapter plugs to wear on the PCT hike, to remind me not to pack too much stuff. Travel light, pack only what you'll actually need, only what you'll actually use. I that can be done in general, and in this case, specifically, without keeping eight 1/4" adapter plugs in a baggie in a desk drawer.

If some day you come across an odd, gold-looking necklace of 1/4" adapter plugs in the free box at Kenndy Meadows, you'll know I've been through that way.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mutual Operant Conditioning and Mimetic Desire

I felt a compelling desire to photograph the ducks for my blog...they, too, felt a compelling desire...

On a wondrous hot August morning commute, I noticed a group of adolescent ducks paddling in formation in the canal. Thinking of them as a hopeful sign of Autumn's approach, and as the third set born in this area this year, I felt a desire to pull my bike off to the side of the path to snap a few quick photos.

...they made directly for me as soon as they saw me stop, expectantly, and hauled out onto the bank...

Faster than my lightly caffeinated brain could grasp, though, the ducks acted on their own conditioned desire, implanted I assume through previous experience of quacking up on this bank and having someone feed them. My conditioned posting of photos to this blog conditioning a desire to pause to take the photos triggering a conditioned response in the ducks to haul out on the bank and waddle way too close...stemming from your desire to look at duck photos posted by a cyclist-blogger, stemming from...

Right about here I recognized a coordinated duck handout assault in progress...

Closer they approached, seemingly fearless, driven by hunger and strong conditioning...

...and when I didn't feed them, which was not my plan, they began pecking at my shoe. So I left.

Girard held that all desire is mediated, triangular, not of our own doing, but according to the other. Cyclist blogger with a camera, adolescent duck gang, blog readers. What do we effectively or truly desire, and why, and who is mediating and reflecting that with subtle and not so subtle cues (not queues, or is it) into action or being?

We watched Blackfish this week, and yes, it's certainly about the morality of the operant conditioning of large wild animals in captivity for profit, but isn't it also about the conditioning by profit of the owners, the conditioning of the audience by the thrill of the show, and the motivation of desire of all the humans in different roles and different perspectives by money, or other motivations, of other minds? In layers, in mutual reinforcing networks of mediation, motivation, scapegoating, desire, action, and cultural scaffolding? 

Pointing to a single connection in that vastness and saying there! that's it! seems a bit short-sighted. It may be proximate, but it's certainly not ultimate, or singular, or non-mediated, or innocent/guilty.

I don't think it's a good idea to feed ducks at the canal, lest they make a habit of doing rather stupid things like this. I wish the world were safe so that they could always act thusly without danger, but of course, the world is opposite of that. On the other hand, the pattern is already set in this crew. Nothing I do will make it worse, and perhaps I can make their lives, now, a bit better by taking some duck chow down there tomorrow morning and spreading it liberally. Their eager quacking conditioning me to repeat again, and again. Here, have a blog photo.

I do pray for that world where these gentle ones can quack without fear of cruel violence.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Hammerhead In My Bike Lane

The Rusty Fish of D.A.L, trying to capture the contrast, semi-successful

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Helmet Visors in the Rain with Eyeglasses

Under-the-visor view of a rain shower

Sun predominates almost all my commutes. Therefore, a helmet with a visor has proven very helpful. The one happens to be on a Bell Super helmet, which I really like, but this is not a review of that helmet so much as brief mention that the sun visor also seems to work surprisingly great at keeping rain off my eyeglasses.

Rain during my commute is rare. Pouring rain even rarer. So I think this may have been the first time since I've worn this helmet that it poured rain. It felt wonderful, this cool water pouring on me on a hot August afternoon. Deliriously sensual. Like, I wanted passing vehicles to drench me.

The rain started when I started. The sky was dark, so I wore my usual glasses, not the tinted cycling ones. I noticed immediately that the visor spared the glasses from both direct rain and subsequent fogging. They stayed totally clear the whole ride. This was in contrast to the last, memorable storm, during which I lacked a visor, and a mixture of water and sunscreen pouring into my eyes and across my glasses essentially blinded me. That downpour was heavier and more relentless than this one, but I still felt like the visor made all the difference.

Another view from beneath the visor, that odd combo of pouring rain and sunshine

After the rain, glasses totally clear to see this

Almost double, thanks visor!