31 December 2010

Happy New Year

The Top Ten In Oh Ten

Everyone else is doing it today... So, I figure, why not? I'm gonna write my very own 2010 Top Ten List, too!

But first, a few stats: Here at rockychrysler.blogspot.com we got a whopping-huge 8207 pageviews this past year, of that over 5100 views were unique, which I think is a better way of looking at how many actual, individual people visited this site last year... However, I could be wrong about this. I'm no SEO expert, that's for sure. But I know enough to know this: those are not exactly earth-shattering numbers. Nevertheless, I think I'm satisfied with them. This is, after-all just a place for me to "practice writing," which really means it's just another blog in the vast array of navel-gazey blogs that are clogging our cultural In-Sink-Erator.

Anyway, here's a list of the Top Ten posts on rockychrysler.blogspot.com in 2010 based on the number of unique pageviews each received (feel free to click-thru and read the ones you might have missed):

Number 1: Just about a bike [Retrotec #64] - 31 July 2010 (194 unique pageviews)

Number 2: Hangover - 14 November 2010 (166 unique pageviews)

Number 3: What I really think about snow-making at Snowbowl - 29 August 2010 (137 unique pageviews)

Number 4: The Resurrection of Rock Lobster #06 - 10 October 2010 (100 unique pageviews)

Number 5: Just about a bike [Rock Lobster] - 25 April 2010 (100 unique pageviews)

Number 6: Just about a bike [Ibis Mountain Trials] - 22 March 2010 (61 unique pageviews)

Number 7: Who? (57 unique pageviews)

Number 8: #Flagstafffire. Not a good meme - 20 June 2010 (54 unique pageviews)

Number 9: How? (47 unique pageviews)

Number 10: Wow. Okay. Maybe - 29 May 2010 (46 unique pageviews)

24 December 2010

Slipped through the cracks

I'm sitting here this afternoon too sick to hike in the woods, too sick to ski on the mountain, too sick to head down to Sedona for a ride.

Instead, I'm listening-in as my wife and daughter play Disney-Scrabble together, wishing I felt good enough to play, too.  In the meantime, I've been watching videos.  Mostly bike-riding videos today, for some reason.  Lift-served skiing officially starts tomorrow... and I'm stoked about that.  But, I'm also happy to be able to note: I've already had one (kinda) fun day on the mountain already, hiking up and skiing down with Ken last Saturday.

But for today, I'm just hangin' on the couch watching Sedona trail videos, hoping I get well soon.

And, it's occurred to me, just moments ago, that I failed to post-up the one-and-only video I shot while riding with Lyle, and Mark, and Joe in Sedona over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I only shot one video because I was too busy talking and laughing and riding and saying stuff like "Wow!" about a million times during this ride on the sooooper secret (not really) Highline Trail on the Cathedral Rock complex between Sedona and Village of Oak Creek.  There's nothing especially interesting in the video below, except that it serves as some kind of a record of what was a really awesome day out riding with some good, old friends.

For whatever it's worth, we rode together for about 4 hours and did what's known in Sedona as a double-H ride: Highline and the Hogs (the triple-H adds 2 more hours and includes the Hangover trail).  As I mentioned in a previous post, there's a lot of neat new trail-building going on down there, and these two exceptionally cool trails are additional examples of that work.

19 December 2010

In defense of all of us nerds [updated]

I've been corresponding with the editor of our local newspaper a bit lately.  Which, you know, is kind of exciting.

Some time ago, on Twitter, he/they/whoever tweets as @azds, said they were, "Seeking testimonials from Daily Sun Twitter followers..." To which I responded, "I'd be happy to contribute, if you're still in need."  I was honestly more-than-happy to oblige.  I like Twitter precisely because of the things I'm able to glean from organizations like the Daily Sun, along with NPR, the Arizona Snowbowl, Huffington Post, and about 15 other Twitter-users who I follow but who don't follow me back.  I guess that's okay.  I mean, it kinda hurts my feelings when other Twitterers don't follow me back.  But I guess I understand, too... It's all part of the Great Unseen Internet Hierarchy which relegates bloggers and others like me to some too-crowded rung near the bottom of the ladder.

Update: Here's the ad.
Anyway, as I expected it would, it took awhile, but the editor finally emailed me back last week to ask for the testimonial and a short bio.  And also to schedule a photo shoot with one of his photojournalists.  I met him down at the shop last Thursday after work.  He was a nice guy.  Seemed a bit puzzled about the assignment, but he thought it would be cool, given the weather and all my waterproof garb, to get a few pictures of me standing with my bike on my shoulder in front of Lyle's awesome mural on the shop's west-most wall.

I didn't expect to see the pictures anytime soon; I was under the impression they were going to run along with my testimonial and bio as part of the First. Best. series the paper's been doing lately.  But somehow my friend (and shop manager) Tony found one of them on the Sun's website.  It didn't actually run anywhere in-print.  Nor does it appear to have been linked-to from any section of the paper online.  But there it is: me, looking like a dork, riding my bike home from work on a wet, slightly-snowy afternoon.

When he posted the picture of me on the shop's Facebook yesterday, Tony called me a nerd for riding my bike in the snow... though, in fairness it's a label he applied to all of us who work together at the bike shop.  It's not a label I dispute.

But, in defense of all of us nerds who ride bikes in the snow, I wanted to show this video of a whole city full of nerds-on-bikes-in-snow.  In the short time that this 67-second Flickr video takes to show the traffic passing through an intersection in Leiden (It's in the Netherlands), I count at least 30 bicycles that ride past... each quite capably, I might add... in the snow, too.  Just like it's no big deal.

You should try it sometime.  It's fun!

16 December 2010

The New Age: Post-Conversationalism

My wife and I have decided that we, she and I and all of us denizens of the Internets, are now living in a Brand New Age... the age of post-conversationalism... a heretofore uncoined term we're pleased to introduce into the modern lexicon right now (Google it).

It's not groundbreaking, nor is it even the least bit shocking, to point out that we live in a time when it's often more convenient to send a text message than it is to make a call... when it's simpler to Google the right answer than it is to try and suss it out with dialog, discourse, and maybe even disagreement... when an email, a Tweet, or a Facebook update will suffice for a greeting, a well-wish, or, heck, almost anything.

There are probably lots of other examples of what we're talking about.  Like blogging?  Maybe.

What seems to have gone unrecognized to this point is that, just as postmodernism tends to grey-up what Truth is (or might be), post-conversationalism does likewise with what might qualify as quality discourse and dialog.

Most of us would probably consider all of the aforementioned forms of communication to be types of conversation.  But really, they're not the same.  Don't think so?  Ask yourself, next time you're sitting around having a cuppa and a conversation with a friend or a lover or a child: Is this anything like an email, or a status update?  You're sure to come to the same conclusion we have:  It's not.  It's nothing like those things.  Face-to-face conversation's different.  Whatever it is we're doing here on the 'Net, it's not the same.

To be sure: real, live conversation isn't completely dead.  We've still gotta talk occasionally.  But, it's not exactly thriving anymore either, is it?  Like letter-writing, handwriting, and postage stamps, talk's ever becoming more and more archaic and quaint.

We're not here to make recommendations, or to get all-preachy or nostalgic.  Nor are we going to try and somehow deconstruct this new age, this new post-conversationalism in which we live.  We only hope to recognize its presence... and perhaps coin a new term... while pointing out the obvious... which is, in fact, the epiphany we ourselves had just a couple of nights ago:

It's been too long since we talked.

13 December 2010

Little Red Trailer

Little Red Trailer review
My friend Josh recently acquired a new website: Commute By Bike and asked me to review a new product for them: a little red, wooden bike utility trailer called the Little Red Trailer (natch).  It's made out of recycled wood and it's pretty darn good for hauling stuff around.  I finished it yesterday and it posted to their website this afternoon.  I think it came out okay.
She's quite handy with that cordless drill
Even if you're not into bike trailers (what?!), the review has some fun pictures of my kid in it; she helped me unbox and assemble it in the living room a few weeks ago.

04 December 2010

A Few Borrowed Lines About Our Old Dog Shadow

[UPDATED June 2011 - See below]

There's this great poem, by a writer named Paul Mariani, that I memorized long, long ago, back in college, when I was competing on the Arizona State Forensics Squad.  At the time I used the poem, entitled Lines I Told Myself I Wouldn't Write, as a dramatic-interp piece, and I did pretty well with it.

It's about a guy who loves and then loses a good old dog.

"I promised myself I wouldn't go soft over one fleabag arthritic half gone in the head..."

I can only remember bits and pieces of it by heart now.

But lately, when I watch as my own old dog "limps down to the Sawmill" I think of that poem; it returns to me like scent memory, unexpectedly.  And it returns with increasing regularity. Even though Mariani's poem isn't about watching an old dog age a little more everyday, I nevertheless find myself grateful for his words, which so well-express what it means to love a dog you never really expected to love.

With that in mind, I wanted to write a few words about our dog, Shadow, in what I hope may be ever-so-slightly the style of Paul Mariani's poem. As an homage.  Both to him and his poem, and likewise, to our dog.

She came to us already named
like a Barbie
as a Shadow. An obvious, but fitting brand

for a blue-black dog with a cautious, shrinking demeanor
afraid of the wind
and unseen food-thieving curs

Two weeks
a fort-night
she was supposed to be with us.

Just while we're gone,
they said. Dogsit for us.
So we did. While they jetted off to London

In that time, like all good fortune
she found us

while we were not seeking her
by gently imploring us for wooden walks
paws crossed in front of her looking into us

for that spark
which she seemed to know she could kindle
curled on the foot of our bed without invitation

and to our surprise
knowing she was welcome there.
They returned but she stayed.

And years later we understood better
that to love a dog (despite the way she can stink-up a room)
or perhaps just this dog, was a harbinger,

a bell-weathered insight
of the affection we might likewise hold for a kid
and so we had one

taught well as we had been
by this Shadow
about how to cherish and find joy and care

for something other
and so much bigger
than me or even us

I know I said
I wouldn't go weepy when it came, and I haven't.
At least not that much

Not yet.  But it's hard to watch her get old
and be troubled by the jump
into and out of the back of the car

growing bony and lumpy
grey around the muzzle
as she slowly rises to her fourteenth year

Her restless creaking snore awakens us both now
and at times we wonder aloud in the night What if...
But her breathing always resumes

steady before she bestirs herself to pace the floor
dig an earnest new nest
and slip off into her dogish dreams again.

Her paws twitch
her lips curl
she is chasing squirrels

UPDATE - June 2011

I shared this blog entry with the guy who wrote the poem that inspired it, Paul Mariani. In an email to him at Boston College I wrote:
Hello Dr. Mariani,

We've never met. But long ago I read and loved a poem you wrote, Lines I Told Myself I Wouldn't Write. Some time ago I was compelled to use it as inspiration for a blog entry and, likewise, to write a kind of homage to it. I am not a poet. Nor much of a writer, in fact. I am an elementary school teacher, truth be told. But the poem has long been special to me. I have shared it, or parts of it, with many people over many years. And I am reminded of it regularly of late. My dog is not lost, but she is getting old. For all of those reasons, I wanted to share what I've written with you. I know that's probably a silly thing. But I wanted to say, "Thanks for your words. You are an excellent writer."

He was kind enough to respond the same day with the following:
Thanks, John, for forwarding your lovely poem about Shadow. I don't think one ever forgets a dog you've had this long. And though my son Mark has lost yet another dog, Bergen, a golden retriever--we still remember Sparky. In fact, about 15 years after I wrote Lines I wrote another poem for him, which I enclose here. The English in particular seem to love this one, for BBC has aired it several times, though I've never heard it. Take care, and may those Arizona fires finally quiet down. Best, Paul Mariani
Here's a link to the poem he forwarded to me. It's very good. Made my wife cry.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey