Thursday, January 31, 2013

Making Better Alternatives

Bicycle commuter shadow with canal creatures and cactus shadows

Sometimes it seems as if I find myself in a situation where I have no better alternatives. Perhaps there are alternatives, but on evaluating those, none are better than the current situation. It can seem, at that point, that I'm stuck. Indeed, if I stop there, I kind of am stuck. Stuck going down a route on my bike that suddenly turns into a freeway, stuck in a situation I don't really want to be in, fill in your own examples. Stuckness doesn't feel too good, typically.

But I also recognize that often the better alternatives are the ones we make for ourselves. That could mean seeking them out with a new vision or renewed enthusiasm, or re-looking at the current situation with different criteria, or, often, actually creating a new alternative opportunity on my own. If you get good at making better alternatives, then you always have them.

Perhaps related and illustrative, perhaps not: very often, I would say more than 80% of the time, when I'm riding around and see something I want to take a photo of, it's the first shot that turns out the best. Out of the nine photos I took of these canal creatures at dawn, the one above is the first shot. Maybe that's just because of how I learned to take pictures, or, maybe it says something about grabbing onto alternatives quickly, as soon as you recognize them, without trying to manipulate or overthink them. If it's better and you know it is, it probably is better. Recognizing a good alternative and not passing by so fast you miss it, is as good as making better ones yourself.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What Dreams are Worthy

Water spouting from one of the horse gargoyles at Scottsdale's "Water Mark"

I was standing in the rain looking up at water pouring from the mouth of a 14 foot tall aluminum horse gargoyle, soaked to my skin, and would have been chilled and shivering except for the core warmth I had generated from cycling about ten miles through a flash flood zone to see said gargoyle in a floodtime, and the questions running through my head were not simple ones to answer: what is art, and what dreams are worthy?

After a long time, some questions answered, more asked

I grew up when the race to the moon was in full swing, and images of rockets and men with the right stuff to fly up there and walk around were the seeds of my young dreams. To become an astronaut, to fly through space, to walk on the moon, these were my great dreams, shared by many others, unrealized by most. A great dream which has been accomplished by a total of 12 people, out of the billions who have lived, may be great, but is not one that I, or the other billions, are very likely to realize.

Fog, and bare trees, and falling water in Arizona, in January, a dream-like setting in itself

I also rode my bicycle over to Indian Bend Wash on March 16, 2010, to check out the progress of the installation of these horse gargoyles. From the start, being of a curious and inquisitive mindset, I wondered what they would look like, and sound like, with water coming out of their mouths. But, according to their design, they only do that when it rains and the wash floods, making it a somewhat rare and unpredictable occurrence. Like rain in the desert. Which, initially, took on the dimensions of wanting to get closure for the first blog post, then slowly grew into an arrow to be added to my OCD quiver, and eventually, through several unsuccessful (at least in terms of seeing water spouting from horse mouths) bike rides out here, assumed the dimensions of either an obsession or a dream nearly three years in the making.

Wait, seriously? Water spouting from the mouths of horse statues? You call that a dream?

You can begin to get a sense of those dimensions by taking a look at posts labelled aluminum horsemen of the deluge, although there were some visits which I left out, including one at 3am and another by car, both in the rain, both unsuccessful, in order to try to avoid the very real possibility that I was a little too concerned or attached to the notion that someday, I would actually get to see the horses spouting water. Indeed, the ride to capture these pictures almost didn't happen, out of fear of failure, concern with excessive focus on horse spouting, questioning the point of a clinging over time to a wish of no obvious value.

But, given that I added links over there on the right in the "Safety, Helmets, Maps, Information" section to both "Stream Gage Current Flows" and "IBW Flood Information" in order to have a ready reference to check the sensors which report how much water is flowing in the Indian Bend Wash, it would be a suggestion that I would be hard-pressed to deny. I basically had a dream to see the horses spouting water, and I think it's quite natural to ask, "what kind of dream is that?" Compared to, say, walking on the moon?

But let us also face certain facts: cling to it for three years I did, and I did feel excitement and anticipation for finally realizing it. So, on the other hand, let's not lapse into denial, let's embrace truth and go for a bike ride in the rain one more time!

Some dreams are colder and wetter than others

A friend once told me that her dream was to own and drive a red Ford Mustang. It just so happened that she already did own and drive a red Ford Mustang. So, comparing that with "great dreams" like walking on the moon, I think I laughed at her a little bit. I judged her dream, and her achievement of her dream, as somehow unworthy, too small, not dreamy enough.

Wait, seriously? Driving a red Ford Mustang that you already own? You call that a dream?

Standing there beneath the spouting horse shower, though, getting colder and worrying about my non-waterproof camera probably more than I should have, I was struck very strongly by the realization of the error I had made, and was continuing to make. It was rather shallow and cruel of me to judge the Mustang dream harshly. Likewise, it would be harsh for me to judge my own horse water spouting dream with the same ill treatment. A dream is a dream regardless of its scope or how it might look to someone else. And a dream realized, well, that's unusual enough and wonderful enough to require no further comment or additional evaluation at all.

Like, I think, good art. This happened and I was there. That makes it worthy.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Savers and Destroyers

This was until recently a beautiful old stand of oleanders

"It is a familiar fact that the technological applications of science can create serious ethical dilemmas. This applies at both ends of the moral scale of our efforts to destroy one another and to save one another. We have sophisticated weapons that kill people without damaging buildings; we have sophisticated medical technology which is so expensive that its use has to be rationed, forcing us to choose who shall live." A.C. Grayling, Thinking of Answers

For me, what is most compelling about some popular entertainments, from the Terminator movies to The Walking Dead to The Road to some forms of heavy metal music, is the fidelity with which they portray the fundamental and possibly irremediable destructive heart of the human creature. Even in extreme situations where it's painfully obvious that we ought to drop our competitive animal destroying souls beside the road and band together against a common foe, humans invariably turn on one another, turn on everyone and everything out of fear and misunderstanding and plain old cussed violent nature, and rage until there's nothing and no one left. 

The only really good thing about the Terminator 3 movie is the moment when John and Kate are trying to decide whether or not to destroy themselves, who for all they know at that moment are about to become the last boy and girl on the planet. It's not good because of what they decide (it's an American movie and we know what they'll do), it's good because they have to make a choice at all. They happen to choose not to hug the C4 but instead to work together and fight on, but you really do get the impression that it's a close thing for them: they could have quite plausibly just flipped a coin to decide the future of humanity.

In the Walking Dead, there's almost no one left alive, and it's not all clear that anyone who is currently alive is going to survive five more minutes. In that scenario, when a common cause is so clear and obvious to everyone, still the worst in people is what drives everyone, rather than our better angels, such that whenever two or more living humans meet, the main question is always who will destroy who first, and that's before the zombies show up to pick up the pieces. 

I rode my bicycle past those oleanders, paused in their shade, more than a thousand times

Jared Diamond probes and reviews our dark destructive heart not only in Collapse, but also in Guns, Germs and Steel. Across cultures, through history, from people wearing animal skins and carrying sharpened sticks through to technologists with satellites and joystick-controlled killing drones, he shows us what we always do, everywhere, no matter what: consume and destroy. Wherever we go, the sharp stick is in our hand, and our hungry mouths are gaping open with sharp teeth and hunger.

Diamond seems like a hopeful dude, and indeed he closes out Collapse with a section called "Reasons for Hope." Like most of us, he knows about and has seen our better angels, and wants them, against all the evidence he provides, to eke out a win. However, the key reason for hopefulness, he says, against the fearsome prospect that impact equals number of humans times impact per human, is our interconnectedness, our ability to instantly communicate anything almost anywhere, to see and know what's really happening, which in 2005 he represented with "archeologists and television," but now is more obviously smart phones, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Wikipedia. Or in other words, Skynet.

These trucks are hauling dirt to build a bicycle path beside a canal.

The reason that we are able to continue on at all is that we have evolved savvy survival abilities based on the core ability to assess and recognize a destroyer as soon as we see one, faster than we even realize. Or, rather as it often seems, to assume the default position which is not that far from the truth that everyone we meet is a destroyer until proven otherwise, that the only one out there known to be a saver is Number One, along with, while we need them and they prove useful and until they turn on us, fellow members of our own small in-groups.

This, I believe, is the source of much cyclist indignation on the road: we are so clearly not destroyers in any meaningful sense from the perspective of drivers, yet the Identify Friend or Foe (IFF) mechanisms of many drivers obviously fires red instantly upon acquisition of a two-wheeled human-powered target. Shifting the perspective around, cyclists, many of whom are also sometimes drivers themselves at other times, ride out with their IFF jammed on red, having been knocked about so many times previously.

I try hard to overcome this tendency in myself. I've written many times here about my thoughts on this, and how I urge my own better angels to be front and center when conflict appears imminent. But if I am utterly honest, my IFF is no more acute than any other human's. It's more or less broken, too. 

When the T-X in Terminator 3 overcomes Arnold's model 101 processor and turns it against the very human he was sent to protect, the 101 tries to fight it, tries to prevent himself from destroying John Conner, but you know it's a losing battle. The T-X algorithm is too strong, it's programming too smart for the primitive 101 subroutines to overcome. It's a close thing, when you feel like the humanity which has somehow infiltrated the machine as it has marched and blasted down its assigned path of duty seems like the only thing which can save John, and thus us, but you see all that fragile sentiment being crushed in the flickering failing IFF lights of the 101's visual display, and you know John is hosed. The only thing that saves John is the 101 destroying himself, to supply John and Kate with the opportunity to flip that coin themselves. Yeah, that about covers it. 

Mean-looking red fish, one of the Canal Creatures in Scottsdale. IFF.

Therein lies the raw beauty and poetry, the innermost mystery, of the thing for me. That, in spite of all this, people still sometimes do better. Sometimes. That, sometimes, suppressing my broken IFF seems to cause interactions with others to work out for the best. And that many, many times, in many, many interactions on the road on my bicycle, I am happily overcome by small yet crystal clear gestures from others (including drivers) which are so very clearly products not of the dark destructive heart but of a saver, of a better angel. 

The woman in the SUV yesterday, in the rain, in a construction zone, who stopped at the four-way and insisted that I proceed through the intersection while she smiled and waved at me, clearly taking care of me for no apparent reason. The construction guy operating the massive crane who saw me riding up, swung the crane out of the way, and insisted that I ride on while he waited for me to pass by. Or everyone out there who lives up to the Duty of Care, tamps down the faulty IFF, and operates in a civil and cooperative manner, in spite of the weight of evolution and history urging them in other directions. It happens. It's still happening, and I don't claim to fully understand it, but I like it better than the alternatives.

I would rather save than destroy, I truly would. Sometimes on my bicycle, that seems almost possible.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Giant Squid Cycling Endorphins Hallucination?

But if I can photograph it it may not be a hallucination...unless it's a very consistent / persistent one

After kicking my cold or parainfluenza or whatever that thing was, I was just experiencing the wondrous return of that general feeling of "HEY I'M HEALTHY" that really can make my day, in contrast to the opposite state of not feeling like that when I'm sick, and then the weather kicked it up three notches with sunshine and 80 degrees in the afternoon. Which means, all things considered, I was feeling kind of naturally high as a kite, when I was out riding my bike. Everything was feeling groovey, the legs were spinning along nicely, when I glanced down in the canal and noticed the giant red squid down there. Uh oh. Maybe I overdid the cycling endorphins just a bit.

Down in the Arizona canal was a giant red squid shooting ink and catching a large fish. First time in the universe for that sentence.

I'm sure there's a good explanation, maybe if I just ride a little longer in the fresh air, my mind will clear out and my vision will return to....whoa. Dude.

So I did the safe thing, parked my bike beside the canal, and had a brief conversation with the bright blue cephalopod with the piercing yellow eyes.

"Er, excuse me, Mr. Pod, I can only think that I should break off my commute to work, go home, grab a book by Gertrude Stein, or perhaps selected Hunter S. Thompson or early Tom Wolfe, and come back and read to you. I don't know, you look like an Aldous Huxley man to me," I psychically burbelled in the general direction of the bright blue cephalopod.

"Island, yes of courrrrsssssee," he psychically burbelled back at me, as only a bright blue cephalopod hallucination can. 

Attention. Attention.

Pardon me, good sir, have you got the time, got the time, got the time, got the time??? Hmmmm?

Thankfully, I found the sign which explained that this was not all in my mind (only), but also was actually evidence of local artists Isaac Caruso (monOrchid mural guy!) and Ashley Macias diving into their work on "Canal Creatures" during the dry-up. Fear not, my dream-vehicle Amur carp, the paint is eco-friendly. These photos are just a few samples of what they're doing out there, which looks pretty remarkable. Particularly from the vantage of an endorphin-soaked 80F January bike ride. Oh, the colors.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bicycle Sprocket Growth: 13 by 2030

Graph of number of rear cogs on Shimano road sets

Still battling rhinovirus/cold, or what a knowledgeable doctor tells me may be "parainfluenza", I set about doing something, anything, other than laying around listening to myself cough. This yielded the first graph, above, which shows that once marketers and engineers formed their unholy sprocket growth alliance around 8, their upward march of more and more rear sprockets has proceeded at a steady clip.

More, it seems, continuous to be perceived as better, probably faster, and doubtless with higher margins and shorter lifespans as tolerances tighten and dimensions shorten. Where will it all lead, though? 

Adding a rear sprocket every eight or nine years

Surely, an ever-narrowing chain combined with an ever-widening rear spacing will hit some practical limit, in which someone, hopefully an engineer, scratches their chin and wonders aloud, in the hearing of other engineers, "Will it really make cycling better if we have 13 rear cogs in the year 2030?"

I surely don't know. I'm not psychic, not at all. For example, I'd like to say that I knew how it would all turn out when I bought my Lemond road bike, but I didn't have a clue. I just liked the bike. It has ten cogs out back and three chain rings up front, by the way. Perhaps one day, out near the end of the second graph, we'll look back at it, with the aid of perspective of our then-new super-efficient nanotechnology bottom bracket CVT gear boxes, and laugh at the crudeness of a stack of 10 cogs crowded between the dropout and the hub.

Or, on another hand, perhaps cog count is like PC processor speed, 11 or so cogs being analogous to 3 or so GHz. Which would lead us to divert from the cog growth path, and down an alternate route of ratio adjustment, the multi-core 11 cog, if you will. Instead of having a single 11 cog stack, perhaps 3 or more concentric or planetary multi-core cogs would achieve that ever-increasing number of "speeds" without requiring further chain narrowing or rear spacing widening. Multi-core in '24! 

It would be like those early "turbo" add-in boards for the IBM PC, raise your processor speed to untold heights, add these multi-core cog extenders, increase your speeds to 60!

I have wondered in this space before about how many speeds I really need, and will freely admit that my opinion varies between 1, 8, 21, 30, and points in between. However, in the context of market-driven cog growth, that is perhaps the wrong question. The right one would be: how many cogs do you want?


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Would Ice This Forever

So many, so fast, too short, sunrise is not a moment but a transient passage

That we should ride, and see such things, say, one per each pedal turn 70 or 80 per minute. Pause, breathe in, remember, commit to that which just was for a moment. She was not in this one, but she is in every one, and I would freeze them all, if I could. Freeze a perfect infinite moment for we who are neither.

One day in one thousand, the canal is frozen solid at sunrise. 

Her face lights up with morning fire, which fades so fast I'm not even sure I saw it. 

How folly, how necessary, how sharp to look at the empty where the ephemeral slipped through my fingers. 

If someone finds a single glove laying on the canal bank next to this ice bike, it was mine, and I don't need it, as I prefer to feel the cold wind making my fingers forget, become numb, so they feel less what they don't grasp. Perhaps they will learn their lesson this way, perhaps they will flutter their silly little finger pas de deux of laughter and forgetting one gloved parter and one with all skin bitten by the gelid air, and their frostbitten twisted shape will be a kind of frozen reminder, something real, something I do keep yet. Naked hand held up in the rising sun, tiger claw, drawing energy from its passing rays in combined renewal and forgetting. Yes it's a new day but what if I would freeze one moment of yesterday if I could?

That we would ever ride, like this, or like we were when that thought which I read crossed the sky of her face, unnamed, would stay there in this my-feeling-of-seeing it pass across, this I would freeze forever, please. I require nothing but that single sunrise, all else is gray.

In all my careful plans, the placement, the lighting has to be at this angle, pro-shadows, and she kept laughing at all my tedious machinations. Just press the button, take the photo, drop your glove if you can't feel it, move on, you can't really catch or hold it, she seemed to be saying. Just when I thought I had it, just when it seemed frozen there just as I had imagined you imagining me on that ride, the one I would ice down for good, the light of the rising sun was perfect, my finger above the button, the bird flew between us. That shadow bird. And all my Turneresque (jmw) reflective thoughts dissolved into something heavy in the form of a tiny blurred shape coming between us. Across her face drifted an expression I've never seen before. Longing? Forgetting? Love with a frostbitten edge? Gone now, but worth it all, I'm certain.   

I'm certain I saw this, and everything else I remember fading

Saturday, January 12, 2013

SRP Fish Round-up 2013: The Angels of Happy Dreams

May you be happy (the acrobat dancers of Flam Chen)

There's an ancient and honored legend passed down through the generations of bicycle bloggers, from father to daughter, right on down the line, about the fish in the Arizona Canal. These fish, the weed-eating amur catfish which keep the canals clean, must be taken care of, handled with utmost care and respect as they are moved about, particularly in the season of the canal dry-up and maintenance, for the amurs are the angels of our happy dreams. This is the legend of the Amur Dreamarang.

The swirling, dancing mass of amur dreamarangs

A dance for fish, and for dreams

If, so the legend goes, the people who remove the carp from the waters so that the canals can be cleaned handle the fish carefully, all who take part in the event will have happy dreams until the next fish round-up, seven years from now. But the legend adds one very important requirement: while the fish are being driven down the canal before the fences, and prior to being scooped from the water, there must be music, there must be dance. 

In this way, as the water shallows, and the fish begin to swim in tighter circles, converging together in swirling masses, exposed more and more to the air and sunlight, the sounds of music will float over the surface and calm them, while the happy vibrations of dancing people enter their dream-growing fish minds, where these vibrations are amplified by the convergence of water and air within the flowing calm fish, boomerang out all across the minds of those watching, then fly back to the swirling fish.

The dreamarang slips in and out of the subconscious of people for miles around, gathering up quick imprints of happy thoughts/memories/dreams, and then flies back to the amurs, where it will rest safely until the next round-up. If they are handled with care.

Sometimes, as we stumble down the path of life, frustration, anger, career burn-out, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, exhaustion, and the thousands of other challenges to happiness and equanimity work to trip us up. In extremis, they conspire to push out the happy dreams, and replace them with unease, dread, insomnia, enervation, darkness. 

But it makes all the difference if just the right angel happens along to set us back on course.

Fortunately, the angels are out there, and many of them showed up at the Scottsdale Fish Round-up: angels of music and dance, angels of public art, angels of happy dreams swimming in the canal. Thank you, Scottsdale Public Art, for an amazing event, and to all for taking care of the angels of happy dreams swimming in the canal.

Please let there be music. There must be dance.

This post brought to you by an early-morning Saturday bike ride along the Arizona Canal on a very cold morning. I think I like how it all turned out, and right after I hit the Publish button, I have some legends of happy dreams and cared-for fish to go pass on to my daughters.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lightness of Heart, Agility of Mind

Lightness of Heart

Agility of Mind
Enhanced cycling technique.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bicycle Fountains of Quiet (Trouble Sleeping)

Brain overflowing

Up late, up early, uneven, disturbed sleep in between, as if too many thoughts seeking too many answers launched too many solver processes to worry through them all in parallel**, and the monitors are unhappy with the lack of progress, and the admins are displeased with the preliminary results, and Finance is freaked about the cost overruns, and the execs want more for less faster sooner better cheaper before the whole outhouse burns itself down or the competition figures it all out too soon.

Sun splashy
They undermine themselves, those urgent solvers, self-undoing by firing through the different possible outcomes, weighing factors, proposing and rejecting solutions, exploring alternate scenarios, they fervently seek out the answers they're assigned to formulate, but don't realize, can't realize, that their own ardent search for resolution is self-limiting in its expenditure of energy in search of more energy: they're sprinting up a hill to meet up with a sprint coach to teach them better sprinting technique, and making themselves miss their appointment due to bad technique, bonking too soon, driving off the side of the hill, rolling to a complete stop and falling over sideways due to lack of forward momentum.  Oh how will we ever make it up the hill fast enough to learn to sprint faster, worry worry worry, they churn away, they do, all through the night. Look at me, I'm sprinting, ever more, never better though.

Oh solvers! Oh worry threads! Cease, pause, suspend. Don't end up like one of those mountain bike noobs trying clipless pedals the first time up too steep a hill, then realizing they can't unclip too late as they run out of momentum on a bad spot on the hill.*

A few moments, please. Of quiet, of contemplation, of sunrise spearing through the citrus trees and exploding through the water fountaining from the irrigation pipe. Work to prepare for work. Plant quiet seeds for tonight. Sleep needs less of your solving and more recollections of recollected moments of light sparkling on water on a quiet morning ride. Renewal, sundogs, ripe fruit still an unpicked riddle up there. Water them with lovely thoughts, poured over, abandonment of concern.

Good timing on the sprinkler system there
Sprinklers turn on, and spray up a memory of my own first irrigation run, so long ago. Mid-monsoon rain storm, lightning and thunder, water running off the roof in sheets, if intense snow is a white-out, what is intense rain that you can't see through, what is thunder that shatters your thoughts, what are memories that spray up at sunrise and push away the madding crowd of solver worry threads? I open my valves at the appointed moment, checked the time with WWV atomic clock to make sure I was right, but no water was coming in. Had I done something wrong, missed something, overlooked, omitted a step somewhere? Had I forgotten? Would we go dry? What was happening? How does this water flow???

A neighbor appeared, shouting over the wall, yelling to be heard above the crazy storm din: IT'LL COME IN ANY MINUTE NOW, so I bent back over, stared into the space beneath the rusty iron valve cover, and out it did come. With water already standing in my yard from the downpour, I thought, thank goodness we got irrigation. An August night. Long ago. But its recall quieted the solvers for a respite moment, the worry threads niced up, and in terms of balance and peace, there was some, a modicum there on that side street on my bicycle, pausing and squinting into this sunflare moment. Let. It. Be.

Nicely flared, lens and sun, nicely flared

*like I did 

**it is often true and frequently wise that greater inner peace results from embracing and resolving an issue at time of occurrence or at least at the moment the resolution is known, rather than putting it off till later, for many reasons, that is, right up until the limit is passed, when it seems like worrying and solving in a timely manner is all you're doing, then procrastination begins to fell less like a bad habit and more like a smart strategy all around.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Romans 12 Unpicked Fruit P!nk Try Ride

We've been here before, sheltered beneath the spreading rusty limbs of Joe Tyler's tree

Works mentioned/cited:
Romans 12 (English Standard Version), scattered bits in italics throughout
P!nk, Glitter in the Air (Grammies performance, 2010)
P!nk, Try (American Music Awards performance, 2012)

Sunday, and headed out for a Tri-City Tour (TCT), a favorite 20 to 30 mile circle through three cities along some pleasant biways familiar to regular readers, but still hungry for something more to fuel the ride. Browsing some other blogger posts, I came across an offhand thought on Two Feet Off the Asphalt about unpicked fruit on trees, which got my juices flowing, and more importantly perhaps, my picking hands picking. First, to the fruit trees!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Fruit on my tree, sweet, ripe, juicy, and now picked, and in my belly (at least a couple of them, anyway)

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function

Grapefruit aerial acrobatics, their smooth aerodynamic profile yields excellent flight characteristics

So to sit a moment and enjoy my fresh fruit pre-TCT fuel breakfast, I recall that I wanted to re-listen / re-watch the American Music Awards performance by P!nk of her song, "Try," which I saw when it first aired purely by chance--I think my daughters and wife were watching, and they know I also enjoy P!nk, so they called me over.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

You can see the video linked above, but I mention it here purely because of my reaction to it: I was stunned, and it brought tears to my eyes, leaving my family sort of wondering what the heck was wrong. So intense, athletic, and moving, it seemed to me. And not lip synching, with several of the moves in the dance being very physical, bordering on the violence that the song talks about. When she lands on the mattress and you can hear her "oomph!" through her live microphone as she hits, it was very real to me, along with her slightly quavering voice as she goes through the moves, more or less perfectly, with a remarkable combination of grace and athleticism. 

Part of my tears were with regret or empathy, that anyone would have such experiences that she acted out in the abusive/violent moves in the dance with such authenticity.

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Having re-watched / re-listened to "Try," and again being moved, I pulled up the other video linked above, P!nk's 2010 performance at the Grammies of "Glitter in the Air." Just spectacular, reinforcing the idea in my head that she is not yet as famous or praised as she deserves. Also, anytime I may feel despair or anger at the superficiality and shallowness of most of our popular entertainments, I can think of these two performances, recall that she has sold something like 40 million records, and start to hope that sometimes when we pick our pop stars, we actually get it right. I'm not sure that I'm that enamored of her music that I'm ready to shell out $300 for a ticket to see her when she plays a gymnasium venue in Phoenix with mediocre acoustics this year, but I'll definitely buy her albums and follow her career.

Happily satiated on grapefruit, and mind seeded with P!nk music and acrobatics, I set out on the ride. Try, try, try.

Grapefruit cutter, post-meal, used to snag a cobweb in the corner, just looked cool I thought

How did the Romans 12 come into it? Somehow buried in my subconscious, the line about "For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function," floated into my brain as I was picking the fruit, now no longer left unpicked, no longer standing as a riddle for those who happened by: why is no one picking that ripe fruit? Could I, a passerby hungry, and appreciative of fresh fruit, pick some as I pass by? If not, why not? Will it not just rot on the tree, or fall to the ground and be eaten by vermin? Such a bounty, it should be enjoyed in its time, yes? 

Yes, yes, with juice and pips smeared across my face and running down my chin, with loud and wondrous music playing and stunning dramatic acrobatics flashing across the screen, prior to heading out on a glorious bike ride, yes! 

Enjoy the fruit, I say. We're not all here to do everything, each has a function, according to grace? Or talent, at least. Singing, working, running, cycling, reading, speaking to crowds, each a function. Fruit picker. Yard cleaner-upper. Cobweb snagger. Prestidigitator. Cogitator.

Cyclist here. Ride ride ride. Try try try. This week is your grapefruit. Is it right to leave such ripe fruit unpicked? Slice it open, taste the sweetness, I quietly urge. Try.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Cat1, Cat2: Disturbed Ground

Cat1 at work
Cat 1 was at work on the Arizona Canal Multi-use Path project in Scottsdale, looks like tearing out a ramp-thing that deserved tearing out, to be replaced with something better. I included a photo of this ramp (and complained a bit about it) in a post on 8/16/2010 about the Canalscape exhibit.

Now gone, fallen prey to Cat 1, and not going to be missed, to be replaced with something more practicable

Just as I took the picture of cat1, I saw cat2, stalking the disturbed earth.

Notice the clipped ear: not the usual meaning of "fixed" on this blog

Based on the look on his face, I believe the cat is suggesting that I go for a long ride, somewhere away from his little patch of disturbed earth. I'm OK with that. In fact, that's sort of what I was imagining the weekend would be like anyway. I'll be back this way often, after the new ramp and canal path improvements are done, though, little kitty.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Quiet of Just Riding

Found it
Books mentioned:
Quiet by Susan Cain
Just Ride by Grant Petersen

If you love quiet, then seek quiet.

If you are nurtured by solitude, then it may be wise to ignore voices which tell you otherwise.

If being alone outside, beneath sunshine and blue sky, pedaling down an empty path with the breezes blowing across your skin takes you to a peaceful place of balance and flow, if feeling your muscles powering circles for miles just feels right, then go for a ride, and feel just right.

I read Quiet, a book about the merits of introversion by Susan Cain, over the holidays, and noted that the words "bicycle" and "bike" never appear it that book. I also recently read Just Ride by Grant Petersen, a sensible book about riding bicycles, and believe that it doesn't focus overmuch on the merits of introversion. Yet, these two books together form some sort of golden duo of perfect personal insight for me to kick off 2013.

This idea came to me while reading Quiet, to put together some detailed synthesis of the two books, built on the flow I feel or achieve while out on my rides of solitude. That, on the one hand, Susan Cain empowers me to fuel up with solo rides in the great outdoors, while Grant Petersen encourages me to ride whatever bike, in whatever way, that makes sense to me personally, on the other. There's a lot to unpack there, maybe a whole blog worth.

But not now. Not here. Two great books married together with a clear and significant impact to my way of looking at 2013 is enough for now, or rather, as far as I can take it right now. The three sentences at the top of this post are as far as I've gotten with it, at this point.

These go together like chromoly and lugs

So far, I've ridden every day in 2013. Off to a great, quiet start.