Friday, October 26, 2012

Spiders in the Belfry


Arachnids in the attic. Slightly preferable to bats. Slightly.

Inspectors have discovered a considerable infestation of spiders in the OSG belfry. While not considered permanent, the inspectors strongly urged suspension of operations until the arachnid infestation can be cleared, as spiders are a known precursor to a full bats in the belfry condition. According to the inspectors, these infestations can take up to a few weeks to fully clear. 

To be clear, we here at OSG consider ourselves arachnophiles. Under rocks. In a field. Up on a cactus. Making webs in the flowers. Daddy longlegs skittering across my bike frame--did he ride the whole way to work? The black widow nursing the tattered mess under the patio chair, she's not doing anyone any harm. The one resting on silken netting sparkling with dew-jewels in the rising sun viewed by a backpacker cradling the day's first cup of coffee: are they cold too when the sun rises?

But not in the belfry. From the belfry they must be relocated to those other, wilder places. Which takes time, and patience, and gentle handling of them, one by one into safe transport containers, then moved singly or in carefully selected small compatible groups, by bicycle, to a natural location far from the nearest street, or belfry. 

Standard OSG arachnid relocation protocol includes post-relocation observation, lit by the rays of the rising sun. Also there must be dew, and coffee, to ensure successful and comfortable establishment, primarily to prevent dissatisfaction which can lead to return to the belfry. Which would obviously render the whole exercise pointless.

Back once they're all gone. Happy Halloween, all y'all.







"Transportation" by Kris Kollasch in Tempe




At the corner of 11th Avenue and Farmer in the Mitchell Park East neighborhood in Tempe, this ordinary irrigation standbox was converted into something extraordinary in a neighborhood effort, on April 18, 2009, I believe. This work, which features Matchbox cars, tiles, and oh a bicycle, was planned by Kris Kollasch, and I love it.  Also seen on Firefly Living, other standpipes in the area adorned with tile.

Check it out, though: traffic jams and bicycle parts, peace signs and foot prints, a winding tire track made of tiles, stars and moons and blue swirls. I need to ride back here to take some detailed close-ups. Or at night, to see the bike up in the tree....another time perhaps. 



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Phoenix Bike Path Life: big horn, pyramid, oasis


Desert Big Horn on a butte, inside the zoo, seen from bike path outside the zoo

Three things very easy to see while cycling along the Crosscut Canal.

The only time I've seen desert big horn up close in Arizona was at the Grand Canyon, where there were some scary-tame ones that would approach very close. I'm not sure if they were relocated, but I know that sharing a narrow trail over a high drop-off with one of these felt unsafe, even if it was just looking for a handout. I got close enough to pat one on the back, which just seemed too close for good sense. I have seen them very far away on a few mountain ranges.

I read the story of how Boy Scouts in Arizona campaigned to save the Desert Big Horns starting back in 1936, culminating in the establishment of two desert big horn ranges, but then I started thinking about what happened to many of those Scouts right after that, which may be why the big horn story is not very well known.

Governor Hunt's (first governor of AZ) Tomb, Papago Park, Phoenix

Papago Park appearing very oasis-like, seen from Hunt's Tomb
Updated with details of Governor Hunt, he of the pyramidal tomb

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Winston Do You Remember


I first noticed l'objet de memoire in the shadow of my wheel

Winston do you remember what you've lost, do you value what you've found?

Little Winston, age two and one-half, was being pushed along the path in a stroller by his mom. In the middle of one his many, seemingly endless, terrible twos tantrums, he launched his purple woobie off the back of the stroller. His tantrums were so dramatic, frequent, and loud that his mother didn't notice the wayward purple woobie. 

Winston did, instantly, though, which caused him to scream louder. Winston screaming louder was not enough of a distinguishing event to cause his mother to seek out its cause, let along to look for the now missing woobie. Winston, his sense of loss growing into what would one day blossom into a borderline sociopathic complex, tried to turn his head around 180 degress to look for the woobie, but it was already falling farther and farther behind them as they continued rolling on down the path. His little fists were trembling furiously, flying in small spasmodic arcs.


Winston's woobie coming into focus

Winston's woobie sat there in the middle of the sidewalk in the bright sunshine. If it could see, it would have found itself gazing in the general direction of the Superstition Mountains, or perhaps Four Peaks. But he could only sit, awaiting his fate. Would Winston return somehow to retrieve him? Or would the gusty wind blow him into the canal, which would then wash him downstream into the generating station, where his diameter would exactly match a vital port where he would lodge and cause far-reaching consequences? Perhaps a dust devil would lift the woobie and carry it over to the Evelyn Hallman park nearby, where it would fall on top of a bronze creosote sculpture, causing a happenstance surealistic juxtaposition photographed by a passing cyclist, who would be forever changed and take it as a sign of something significant from the universe on par with the doll floating in the canal among the foam pliers


The Grand Woobie of Coincidence and Symbolic Fate

It's the purpleness of the grips that seal the deal. Any other color of woobie abandoned by Winston would have been ignored by this blogger, but not the purple woobie of fate. I cannot just ride past this one without stopping and wondering. Winstion, did your mommie notice the woobie had gone missing before too long, turn around, go back, and retrieve it? They have a way with wayward woobies. I once saw a mommie in the supermarket backtrack three aisles to retrieve a ratty blankie. 

Or did the winds of random fate snatch the woobie up, toss it across the desert city, and take it on to other unknown great adventure? To be dropped in some poor kid's yard, to be found, to be treasured? Napolean, George Washington, Hemingway, what woobies did they lose as kids in their terrible twos, what woobies did they find? 

Oh Winston, I want to fast-forward forty years to see what you become. Do you happen to remember the small purple guy, the wayward woobie you discarded on the bike path, and how did it affect you? I'm sure you've forgotten, I'm sure you'll disavow him, but will you have really, should you deny the little purple guy who brought you only joy until you threw him away in a burst of mindless anger? Your disavowal lacks sincerity. I saw him there in the sunshine, and in purple imagining scribe hashmarks around the horizons of your yearnings.

  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Anatomies of Yearning: A Moment With Creosote


Riding by "extraordinarily common", public art by coLAB Studio inspired by the common creosote, at Evelyn Hallman Park, Tempe
(my video from riding the Crosscut canal path may provide a relevant sound track for this post)

I don't recall my first moment of consciousness, and I don't believe I will be able to recall my last. This is disconcerting to me, or more precisely, disorienting, when I reflect upon it. For this is my apparent lot in life: to be an analyzer, a measurer, a mindful child of reason, a plotter from A to Z who can't reckon his own A, and won't be able to reflect on his own Z. Consciousness itself is limited and impermanent, as far as I can tell. Our knowledge of our own is time- and otherwise-limited, and far from perfect, while our understanding of others' is so tenuous (save for whatever commonality we may eke out) as to render any feeling of really knowing another insupportable. Or so it would seem.

But, on the other hand, we seem to have worked out ways. Methods and techniques. Psychological and linguistic, chemical and pheremonical, artistic and non-verbal, supra-analytical and organic, somehow we sometimes get across. For example, we have creosote, that common, extraordinary plant of the desert.

Today's fare: I studied the sculpture, ate the apple, and read the book

On a previous post about another work of art, I wrote, "...but I find for me, riding my bicycle grants me the most immediate access to that natural zest, the appetite for the possible. Rain clouds in the desert, of course, are the essence of what-could-be, for when water falls on these parched lands everything brightens and greens, plumps and blooms, and the creosote perfumes the arroyos, and the cactus wren calls WRACK WRACK WRACK WRACK and this cyclist seeks out mud to splatter himself with."

Not only does its aromatic resin lend a characteristic perfume after a desert rainfall, it also makes itself known in the summer heat. On hot rides and on hikes after a storm I find myself immersed in that aroma, and if you do those things and others like them, you know it, too, without me trying to explain what it smells like, which I would fail at, anyway. Before looking at these sculptures up close, I grabbed a handful of creosote leaves, and crushed them into my skin. Cupping my hand around my nose, I closed my eyes and breathed in deep. If you know what I smelled at that moment then you know what I thought, too, or some of it, without me having to say what it was, which in itself is rather amazing. Not only because of words' failure to describe it.  


Bip with Carradice saddle bag (book, apple, camera carrier) leaning against Flower Stamen pedestal

Explanatory and expandatory texts attached to each piece

Young leaf

Seed pod

Pre-flower bud with shadow, path, and saguaros



Creosote can live a long time, I learned from the Seed Pod caption. One nearby specimen (not the one I rubbed some resin off of, mind you) is said to be 2000 years old. The passage of time, the gulf between consciousnesses including our own with itself, the importance of ordinary, small things such as characteristic desert plants, and the perfume they sometimes emit, a place with art to pause and ponder such things. 

A time and setting to color the reading of a book about transforming the mind. I bit into the apple eagerly, and it was delicious, and sweet.
  

The title of this post comes from "Creosote Poem" by Ron Phares written to accompany this sculpture, and appearing on it.
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Signs in the Darkness, Flying at Night




Arcing across the six lane road in a lull in the traffic, I felt the cool night air around me, as my awareness flowed through my legs bound to the pedals bound to the chain bound to the road spinning along. This perfect fall desert night, the quiet street, the freedom of just flying along the road, all these lit up my happy centers, and I just wanted to go faster and smoother, to stretch out the moment into hours.

The first thing I saw were his lights, pure white in front, blinking in back, across the road, coming toward me but on the far side. I could see both lights because he was rocking the bike, standing on the pedals, sprinting up the sometimes-busy road as if chasing something, or running from traffic, but this time, if was just him, flying. He was cranking, a flash of lyrca and LED in the night.

I saw signs floating in the darkness; I saw a cyclist flying at night. 



Polylube pipe joint lubricant. Also possibly good for bicycle chains (wet)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Bicycle Commuting Light Source


Took these on a recent commute with clouds. Headlight not needed!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Public Domain Pomegranates, and A Path Shot


This pomegranate is licensed under the Creative Commons free-in-hand walk by and take one license

Two photos and some quick comments from a glorious Sunday early fall Phoenix canal ride.

I've posted photos and pix of all the citrus that falls off trees around here in season, but we have plenty of other fruit, too, including pomegranates, if you know where to look. In past years my kids and I have enjoyed a few off these handy producers. The ROI for work vs. fruit goodness is low, but tasty. This year, though, since I finished reading Gary Taubes' low carb book last night, and feeling the need to drop a few pounds, I rode on by the tempting scarlet globes of sugary goodness poison. This read, and slight change in eating lifestyle, was brought to me by Grant Petersen, after hearing him at Pedalcraft, reading his book, watching the Gary Taubes talk at Walnut Creek linked off Rivbikes, and checking out some of the related cycling ramblings and discussions on the topic. 

Then, more or less just wandering around looking for something appropriately stunning to photograph, hoping for cyclists spinning down a scenic city path, but found only myself out there at that particular moment. Murphy's Bridle Path was a fun, quick little diversion, with Central Avenue noticeably quiet on Sunday afternoon. I rode back and forth squinting up my eyes and looking waaaaaay down the path for other cyclists to photograph beneath the spreading green canopy, but it was just me and Bip out there, at that moment. Maybe I would have seen some if I had stopped for that public domain pomegranate.  


Murphy Bridle Path

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Surreal Real Intentional from the Bike Lane


So green, so rocky, so clearly intentional

Until recently, this was a scruffy strip of dirt and weeds with a decrepit, woody cactus slowly crumbling. Then this stark and bold design appeared. I am drawn to the contrast between the highly artificial plastic turf and the evenly placed stones. Stones like these evoke wild places, mountains and highlands, rushing rapids and chill air. Regular spacing on fake grass and with a clear relationship with the cut-outs in the wall is also part of the composition.

I could interpret it as a bold and despairing view of the ultimate victory of entropy over life. Thermodynamics are inescapable. Christoper Wren and Inigo Jones might pause here, scratch their considerable knoggins for a moment, then nod knowingly before passing by. To sum it up, the bottom line is that eventually a three mile wide space rock traveling many times the speed of sound will smash into the earth and cause an ELE.

Or just a trap for an over-observant bicycle commuter who notices such things, and can't help but stop and wonder. The oleanders behind the wall will decide it for me. Will life overcome? Or do the rocks win? Or does technology (the plastic turf and the even spacing of the hand of Man) intervene to postpone the inevitable? Can we impose order and slow down thought to blunt the arrow of time? 

I'm watching to see if they do anything with those oleanders behind the wall before the sun goes supernova

Here is a clear reference to chaos and order, intent and randomness, entropy, design, and species extinction

Friday, October 12, 2012

Do mopeds belong at the bike rack?


I believe it's electric, and has a built in theft deterrent alarm

Do mopeds belong at the bike rack? In the bike lane? On the MUP? I'm not really sure....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I don't know what I dreamed


Regarding unknown dreams

It could be due to an upbringing cloaked in deferred gratification and protestant guilt. Or some personal flaw or trait, maybe it's just how I work. Or reality, it's just how it is. But I don't know what I dreamed. All I know is it doesn't seem to have been this. This job, this bicycle commuting, this neighborhood, this economy, this country, this world, no, it seems to have been something else, a different dream.

Perhaps it all comes from an unwarranted sense of anticipation. Back to the deferred gratification thing. It's not today, but look ahead, it's coming. It's what's next. Get antsy because it's not here now but it will be then, soon. So....when is then? How much longer until soon? Where's the confirmation that the anticipation was warranted?

I'm riding my bike now: is this what the dream was about? It feels pretty cool, but this isn't what I remember. Although I'm not sure what I remember about it, so maybe it actually is, this dreamy ride is what I dreamed of, what tomorrow would bring, just wait. I waited. Tomorrow is now. Isn't it? The old question, actually relevant here, for once: is this actually the dream, and how would I know? That would make some sense, since although it's certainly possible and I've possibly experienced it, dreaming about things that you would also later dream about seems less probable than realizing that since you don't remember dreaming about this time, which feels as if you were supposed to have first dreamt it then lived it, could directly imply that this current experience must be the actual dream itself.

That is (to parse out an unfortunately dense sentence): this particular ride doesn't ring any "this is exactly what I dreamt about bells" because it is the dream itself, so after I wake up and resume non-dream existence, I will go on the actual ride or something very similar to it and saying something similar to, "Whoa, this bike ride is exactly what I dreamt it would be!"

The thing is, this is not a dream, nor is does it seem to be what I dreamt about. 

Some clarification: this is not a rant about my neurotic obsessions about some vague what-might-have-beens, could-have-beens, should-have-beens. That's no way to be, for me, I've pushed it aside, I've filed it away, I don't dwell it that place in that sense. Am what I am, at where I'm at, it's decent and I do my best. But I'm curious. I am possessed of an insatiable need to know about those observations I've quarantined off in their own little no-go zone. They are embargoed from regular active thought or reflection. They are not permitted to play a role day to day. But I am curious, beyond imagining: why don't I know or remember what I dreamed, and whence this sense that this was not it? And what to do, what should be done, what must be done? What does this feeling feel like, why does it feel like this, and what, if anything, should or shouldn't be done in response?

Because this was supposed to be, you know, the time or age when those dreams (whatever they were) were made real. Supposed. So at least the origin of the insatiable need to know is clear.

This is also not some loss of innocence or crisis of idealism post. I'm way past either of those. If anything, there's a strong pragmatic motivation here: do I teach my kids not to defer their gratification, not to fuel their anticipatory sense, not to feed too many dreams that may just be forgotten, slipped away? Something like that? You see the point, anyway. For them there is time. Future. To be changed, now, going forward.

Why do I write posts like this sometimes? Perhaps it's part of my dream, either as-dreaming, or dream-to-be. Or yours. I guess, but how would we know? Talk it over, ride it out, I suppose.

The question of the feeling of unrealized unremembered dreams may have something to do with the subject of this post on Alastair Humphreys' blog, which I saw after composing my post: What Would You Do if Money was No Object?. Perhaps it's time to come up with some new dreams, ones that stick. I'll share that video here, too, well worth watching, and well worth asking: what do I desire?


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Leather U-lock Rack Mount Road Test Results


Results: belt leather, excellent! Zip ties, not so much
A follow-up post to the first one, inspired by a story on the Velo-Orange blog (currently trending toward the French-like pronunciation, in case you were still wondering where I came down on that vital question). I've been using this to carry my u-lock in a convenient place for about three months now. I carry the lock tucked inside the loop of this former leather belt, and also strap it to the strut with some Velcro One-Wrap. The idea of the wrap was to quiet the lock from rattling, which is does pretty well depending on how tight I wrap it, but the extra step has had an unintended or unforeseen benefit.

This has happened twice
Twice during the three month road test, the zip tie holding the front end of the belt to the rack snapped off. Both times, fortunately, the One-wrap caught the lock and slid it down to the bottom of the strut, and not into the rear wheel. Both times happened going over exactly the same bump, where the canal transitions to the street. Anyway, I like the mount, so I am giving it one more try, this time reinforced with a wrap of Gorilla tape on each end.

Note, though: any mounting approach which includes the possibility of a u-lock flipping around into the back wheel is potentially unsafe. I don't recommend anyone try this approach. Experimental at this time.

Yikes the flash brings out the ugly really well

This is just temporary, excuse the hasty tape job. I just need something to get me to work and back for the next few days. I've got some better ideas which make use of the remarkably strong and durable pieces of the rest of the belt I saved, for version 2. Or I guess it will be version 3. Why go this way any way? As I said in the first post, the supplied mount for the lock rattled. Furiously, I would say. And never looked right. This is rattle-free when wrapped down, and is still quick to deploy or store. Still super-easy to put together. I just need to improve the leather-to-rack interface so the mount last more than three months of commuting. Or one test session of riding back and forth over that same bump a hundred or so times. The fallback will be to throw the lock into the gaping pannier bag hanging off the other side, but that seems like it would take more time to deploy or store, and could get the clothes or other contents dirty. Or smack into the laptop. Version 2 test in progress!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Perspectives on Non-intimidation


Taking the high road, the long view, from two wheels

The mayor's wife, Nicole Stanton, has launched an anti-bullying initiative called "Stop Bullying AZ", which got me thinking. On the ride in to work, it became very clear to me that it is my heartfelt intention to not intimidate anyone, intentionally or otherwise. Which got me thinking about intimidation itself.

Intimidation flows downhill, I think, and is often the recourse of someone who feels intimidated by something greater. A bee flew into my helmet vent. I grabbed the brakes, skidded to a stop, ripped off my helmet, and did my best "Three Stooges" imitation, NYUK NYUK NYUK, trying to brush the innocent beast off my head. The Stooges schtick made me laugh, rather than feel intimidated, and then I looked down and saw a goathead thorn embedded in my front tire. Thoughtless reach down and flick it off, and felt the sharpness bite into my flesh. Now I had a goathead thorn stuck in my finger. More Stooges to take the edge off: at least my puncture guard on my tire was working, no HISSSSSSSSSSS sound followed the de-thorning.

Instead of getting all bent out of shape over the bee and thorn (what is it with me and sharp things??), I paused a moment in the bike lane and took a couple deep breaths. The sky overhead appeared exactly as in the photo. It took me away from my little concerns for a moment, up and above the brief local annoyances and to a bit wider, broader view of these petty things. The bee flew off unhurt. The thorn did no lasting harm. I had a spontaneous Three Stooges incident to remember. These thoughts permitted me to regain a sense of equilibrium and patience, peace or perspective if you will, and took me back to the train of thought about intimidation or bullying.

We're in this together. People matter, and we have much common ground to work from.

Bees sting (sometimes) and thorns poke (usually). So what? I'm riding my bike to work, and I'm not going to let any of it bother me. That is, I'm not going to lapse into being intimidated by bees, or thorns, or traffic, to knock me off my perspective. I've got both a strong center and a long view in sharp perspective, and those are more along the lines of what I would wish to pass along, if I pass along anything. 

Intimidation is often the refuge of the intimidated. I won't be pulled into that. Perhaps we might go for a bike ride, and talk it over instead.
   

Monday, October 8, 2012

Early Fall-Winter Wandering Cycling Exhilaration Plans


Desert city with Palo Verde, the tree with the photosynthesizing bark, hanging over sweet mountain trails

Dispatches from the spiky shade zone...

Out testing the feet this weekend on a hike, stretching the hill muscles, and giving the legs something to do besides turning circles, looking for places to ride, wander, and hike as the weather turns from the hot season to the warm season. About fifteen minutes after taking this shot, I was down on that trail in the very bottom right of the photo, and heard one of my favorite sounds: a cyclist coming up behind me with his knobby tires grumbling on singletrack gravel, and a bike shock compressing over rollers. Contemplated taking the next six months of work off to continue this dusty investigation, and follow after the cyclist, who wore no shirt, and was possessed of an aura of happy exhilaration.

Mmmm, happy exhilaration. Get some. A fall and winter of the ride-to-the-ride rule in full force. One bike to rule them all, road and trail. S24O of my dreams. Oh perfect tire for desert city trail riding campeuring, I seek you, in all your variable air pressure, hybrid tread pattern, and magnificent puncture resistance, wherefore art thou? 


Those distant mountains make the ride-to-the-ride rule an interesting challenge


A place to imagine sleeping with a coyote serenade

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Awesome Saturday Riding Partners


It will be a challenge to top the sheer awesomeness of this, but I will try


Friday, October 5, 2012

In Search of Lost Mellow


Bikes are allowed to pass through, I asked

Freshman year in college, I decided to be a DJ at the college radio station. I had never done it before, but it seemed like it might be fun, so I signed up. The first night, a Friday night shift starting at 10pm as I recall, which was pretty easy to get since everyone else was either partying or studying at that time, and I was really nervous. As in, unaccountably terrified.

It wasn't about working the equipment myself, alone in the station, which was straightforward, but more about talking into the microphone and feeling nerves about the unseen people listening. I guess. Anyway, I decided to try to enjoy myself, and just play music that I liked.

That first shift went fine, I took a few requests, and managed not to screw anything up too seriously. Toward the end, though, I was still wondering how I did, and questioning if DJing was something I wanted to keep doing. One of the phone lines lit up, so I answered it, and the caller said to me, "Hey, I've been listening to your show tonight, and I just wanted to say I'm surprised to hear such good music. I like your mellow style." When he said that, I thought to myself, that's it exactly, all I'm trying to accomplish with this DJ thing: play good music, and with my voice reach out to listeners who for whatever reason might appreciate some strong cool mellow.

Over time, that phone call became like some sort of idealized moment for me. As in, and I know the actual answers to the following questions but I keep asking them anyway, couldn't all jobs and work be similar to that, just mellow people together enjoying what they're doing? Couldn't strangers connecting by something as tenuous as a distant voice carried over radio waves be cool to one another? Could life be my radio show, with people who happened to tune in because they shared my taste in music, and appreciated some mellow words? 

Of course, I learned that reality / life generally doesn't work out that way. It's been a long quest or challenge to recapture that lost mellow. Or at least it was, until I rediscovered cycling. In particular, I have found that the hour or so I spend each day commuting on my bike has allowed me to recapture that lost mellow feeling. That's really all this post was about, but considering how much and how long I wondered what it would take to find it, I'm glad I did.

It also strikes me that assessing those around me, checking who's got a strong level-headed mellow on most of the time vs. who's a stressed out mess opens up a world of complex understanding of both human interaction and also my place in that chain. But I would rather not overthink it just now, and would prefer to spin some records for you. Who's got a request?

      

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dread Hangs Oer Me Like Fate's Dark Shadow

It occurs to me
It occurs to me, based on observation while commuting on my bicycle at rush hour, and interpolation of those observations, that cycling on a high-speed street with no bike lanes may be safer because drivers are less likely to be distracted by texting or otherwise operating their smart phones, conditioned as they are to pay somewhat more attention when other metal boxes are careening around theirs also at high speed.

Sure, I'm still not super-comfortable or super-encouraged with large fast vehicles moving at high speed in six lanes all around me on my bicycle, but other than the discomfort that's hard to shake from all the noise and power around me that it could all be over in an instant, not a place I want to spend hours but don't mind spending part of my commute, they seem to see me and when I signal and do what I'm supposed to they do what they're supposed to and it works. 

On the other hand, lately on quiet streets with bike lanes everyone seems to be swerving their SUVs all over the place including into the bike lanes because hey the road looks (pretty much) empty and there's an LOL TXT coming in that has to be attended to, or a tweet to RT, or an FB needing liked, or sth.  

Actual text exchange with my wife today while sitting at my desk at work: 
wife: hey how are you doing? 
me: Dread hangs oer me like fate's dark shadow

I texted that while updating my desk calendar, catching up if you will, writing the number on each month for how many months I have left to live based on standard life expectancy, which may sound rather dark but is something I've done off and on since age 13, but which now results in numbers which are dreadfully low and graspable, a practice which actually serves to focus me a little bit on finitude and here/now etc, and I was in a pretty good mood until I started thinking I'm not going to make it that many months anyway because a driver is going to be updating a pinterest pin of their latest instagram status update via twitter and is going to lane drift right into me at 45mph taking me out and the last thing people will read about me was the catch phrase following the American newspaper vernacular: at least he was wearing a helmet. 

So I scratch off "359" or whatever it was and write "1 left? (wearing helmet)" instead. I don't need a "3 foot law" t-shirt, I need a bright safety yellow STOP F*NG TXTING! shirt. I've suspected two or three times in the last week that a driver saw me, stopped texting long enough to pass me sort of safely, then went back to texting, and swerved into the bike lane just ahead of me while doing so. One cut a corner so close I thought he was going to take out the large bushes planted there. LOL. 

But it's OK, this post right from the title onwards is like listening to the Blues for me, it actually cheers me up and encourages me to get back out there, perhaps try some mirrors to see the drifters coming, and maybe do a little bit of the Grant Petersen unsteady cyclist ahead type swerving just to keep them on their toes a bit. In fact to that end and to cheer up even more I point out the marvelous review from the NYTimes of Mr. Petersen's book written by David Eggers (winner of the American Book Award, $100K TED prize, $250K Heinz Award, a fortuitous book reviewer to get). 

To grab this second photo, I turned out and stopped my bike on the center line of the CLOSED street (local traffic only) to see what kind of shot I could get, only to look behind me to see a local traffic SUV drifting imprecisely back and forth across the CLOSED street. I still got the shot, and can only hope the FB update the driver was making was worth it.


If that was my Cat, I think I'd park it behind some text-proof Jersey barriers

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Unseen Workings of Subterranean Drainage


Metaphorically speaking, this fits right into my life
Just below the surface, waiting for the rare flood

When I think of these sitting just below the surface, empty and dry for years possibly, and then suddenly filled with roaring water that has poured off the mountains in a storm, it takes my breath away. The power, the forces, the dramatic incompressible urgency of it, ripping through these pipes, redirected to somewhere other than these streets, seeking out the river elevation down below. I paused in front of one on my bicycle, and thought: one day through this space, unimaginable watery roar.