12 May 2015

A significant addiction

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” -- 
Edward Abbey.

Looking at the last few months of my Instagram and Facebook accounts, I've noticed a theme, and I believe it reveals a significant addiction which I have acquired over the course of many years.

To trails, as seen over the handlebars of a bicycle. And also to the tracks I've left behind.

11 March 2015

Crap. Crap. Crap. [Updated]

[13 March 2015] After 48 hours of fretting, several members of our faculty insisted today that I contact my dermatologist's office and ask for my lab results, "It's Friday," they insisted.  "You call them.  Right now."  So I did.  

A pleasant RN named Jennifer returned my call about an hour later.

"It's benign," she told me.  I asked her to repeat it.  


Best. News. Ever.

(Warning: biopsy image below)

I was, no exaggeration, no more than one toe away from being done with my annual strip-for-it full-body skin-cancer screening today when my PA found this on my left Greek toe.

What the heck?

Gosh dang it.

She's good.  I've had at least a half-dozen basal-cell carcinomas removed over the years, and I've become rather adept at identifying them.  But I'd never seen this spot before.  Wasn't there last time I trimmed my toenails, far as I can recollect, and that was just about a week ago, before the snows came.

Hate to ski with long toenails.

biopsy 15x macro

Anyways, the biopsy's off to the lab... five to seven days, I'll have my answer.  Though I'm pretty sure I already know what it is.

Looks like melanoma to me.


How does that happen on your toe?

23 February 2015

The wild telegraph poles of Dry Lake Hills (part two)

Telegraph  F
Some time ago I wrote a blog-post about a set of old telegraph poles I'd found near Rocky Ridge Trail and the Elden Lookout Road.

Out riding this past Sunday, while passing through an area of the woods that recently underwent a large-scale prescribed burn, I spotted another old telegraph pole not too far off the north-side of the trail I was riding.  

It was quite charred on one side, but still recognizable as a pole, despite the damage it had recently incurred.

Telegraph G
Having found one "new" pole (F), I decided to bush-whack up the hillside, heading generally in the direction of the other poles (A-E) to see if I could find any additional, as-yet-undiscovered poles to add to my collection.

I only found one more (G).  That might be because I missed them, or because all the other ones were burned-up by the fire.

Anyway, I think these old telegraph poles are sorta cool.  As I said in my previous blog-post about them, "I've always assumed that [these] pole[s] followed the original alignment of the mule trail and functioned, long ago, as a communication line, and perhaps also as a power line, for folks staffing the [Elden fire-lookout] tower."  

Kinda neat.  I'm going to keep looking for more.

Below is a Google Earth screen-grab showing the location of the poles I know of so far.

Click to enlarge

12 December 2014

What would Lura Do?

I'm not "in love" with my job, a reality that bothers some when I tell it, but which seems to me an acceptable self-assessment of the work I do.

Truth is, I'm not sure "love" is a necessary emotion when it comes to being satisfied with one's work.

That's not to say I hate my job.  No.  I don't hate it either.

I am often pleased with the work I do.  In fact, at times I find myself quite proud of it.

But there are also times when I wish I could shut my office door, crawl beneath my desk, and hide.  Or not go into the office at all on a given day and just stay home with the shades drawn and disappear into a good book.

But I can't.  Because I do important work.  And lots of people count on me to be ready to do it.  Every day.  Regardless of how I feel about it.

Up high on the wall behind my desk I keep a picture of a stoic, gray-haired old lady in wire-rimmed glasses and a smart blue suit.  I am greeted by her thoroughly humorless visage each morning as I unlock my office door and switch on the light.

Her name was Lura Kinsey.

Lura was the first principal at the school where I am now the principal.  She served in the front office at Marshall Elementary School for eight years, from 1953, when the school first opened its doors, until she retired at the tail-end of a long career as a public educator in Flagstaff, in 1961.

Her obituary ran in the local paper just four short years later in 1965.

Lura, a Flagstaff native, began her teaching career in 1914.

She got her first job at Flagstaff's Emerson School after graduating from the Northern Arizona Normal School.  She taught elementary and middle school grades there for several years and eventually became the school administrator, a post she held for 18 years.  In 1951 she became the principal at John Q. Thomas School (then just a "wing" at Flagstaff High School), before transferring in 1953 to become the principal at the brand-new Eva Marshall Memorial School in what was to be her 39th year in public education.

Flagstaff Unified School District's Kinsey Elementary School is named in her honor.

A few years ago, during the tenure of a school librarian eager to cull the dust-collecting "chaff" from our school library's shelves, I rescued from the discard-pile William H. Cummings authoritative text, A History Of The Flagstaff Public Schools 1883-1950.  The tattered volume (with its badly rendered cover-drawing of what must be Flagstaff's first schoolhouse, which would have been occupied by none-other than Flagstaff's first teacher, the aforementioned Eva Marshall) now resides on a bookshelf in my office.

Aside from finding Lura's name among several of the many chronologies within, there are few direct, personal references made by the author or those he interviewed about Lura Kinsey.  The index lists only six references to her name in several hundred pages of history.  Of the few references to her at all, almost none make mention of her character or make statements that reveal anything of her personality.  Just one interview subject observes that "she had meticulous handwriting" and recollects that she was well-known as a stern task-master.  Neither implication is very revealing.

Nor are they very surprising.  Not to me.

I feel like I know Lura pretty well.  And it doesn't surprise me at all to read that she was stern.  Her no-nonsense attitude is apparent to me each time I glance in her direction.

"Suck it up, sonny," That's what she tells me.

"Back to work.  No time for feeling sorry.  You school's likely to run right off the rails if you don't get up and get going."

I look up at her a lot, especially when my days start feeling long or lonely.  And I imagine all that she must have seen and endured in the course of her 47-year career.

Lura's not smiling.  She doesn't strike me as someone "in love" with her job.  Not one bit.  But she doesn't look angry, or discouraged, or disappointed either.

To me Lura looks like a woman who understood fully the scope of the important work she had to get done.  And I like to think, for 47 years, she probably got it done.   Well, too.

What would Lura do?  That's what I often wonder.

And then I go and do it.

08 December 2014

This is just to say

Waited 21.5 months for my name to finally rise to the top of the build-queue at Coconino Cycles.

Took receipt of my new signature model singlespeed on Saturday, the sale of which was completed with a high-five, a few beers, and a quick test-ride on the Coconino Cycles World Headquarters test-track just before sundown.

Still on the chilly side, trail conditions were double-plus good on our inaugural ride this past Sunday morning: tacky from the rain, even greasy in spots. Rode up to Newham for pics.  Natch.

Rides so well.  Awesome.  Amazing, in fact.  A full day later, and I still haven't been able to let go of the sense of it...

Had trouble staying focused at work.

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