23 September 2012

Rock Stacking

Call it what you will, stone-balancing, rock-balancing, or rock-stacking (which is the term we prefer), my daughter and I enjoyed a few peaceful minutes together reconfiguring our front yard into a marvelous stone garden of balanced rocks this afternoon.  Just for fun (I really enjoy stacking rocks). And also because, unless decorated with fresh rock-stacks now and then, I tend to otherwise totally despise our crushed pink granite "lawn" due to its natural ugliness.

17 September 2012

Camper van BETOVN

I've been to two Camper shows in my life. The same for Cracker. David Lowrey, lead for both bands, is, 100%, one of the best acts going, no matter who he's playing with.

I didn't buy a camper-van so I could name it Beethoven.  But, as a fan, once I had one, it seemed the most logical choice.

To be honest with you, I was a more than a little shocked (and likewise just as disappointed) to find the vanity plate BETOVN hadn't been taken already.

16 September 2012

More Glue Than Shoe

If I could afford shoes now
at the end of the summer-season
would probably be a good time to invest in a new pair.
My bike-riding shoes are probably six years old and
have been fixed and patched and mended too-many times.
The soles are cooked near-through
So are the cleats.
They are more glue than shoe.

14 September 2012

Archival footage: A foolish consistency

The following post was originally published at FlagstaffBiking.org on October 19, 2003.

What was it Emerson said?

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” right?

In the morning, the whole of Las Vegas looks a little bit guilty – from the tops of the towering theme hotels to the porn-choked gutters and drunk-trampled flower beds – the tourists still out roaming aimlessly after sun-up, even the smoggy-gray cloudless skies seem to wear the same expression, as if asking, wordlessly, “What the heck did we do last night?”

09 September 2012

Archival footage: Wheels changed me

The following post was originally published in July 2003 at FlagstaffBiking.org.

I only-half-jokingly tell my students at the beginning of each school year, while we’re all still taking the time to get to know one another, that I am genetically incapable of playing any sport that involves a ball.

While I’m unsure if my indisposition is genuinely genetic, I’m nevertheless quite certain: I’ve never been good at ball-sports, be they played with round or oblong, big or little, hard or soft balls, or should they require throwing, catching, shooting, or carrying said balls. The bottom line: I am a gimp on the ball field.

A reality. But, man, what a difficult, harsh reality to face when you’re ten. I tell my students this at the beginning of each school year for two reasons. The first: to let the gimpy kids know that I am kin, a fellow gimp. Second, to let them know, particularly while they’re still young, that I believe it is possible to outgrow one’s gimpiness (1), but that I didn’t really begin to outgrow my own gimpiness until I found wheels.

Skis came along a little earlier for me, and they helped along the way. This is a trait I’ve found I share with other ball-gimps; skis taught and encouraged the mastery of a coordinated skill-set that didn’t require a ball (2). But skiing is strictly seasonal, making it tough to hang on to, speaking in terms of its boost to a gimp’s self-esteem, throughout the live-long year.

Like most folks, I initially found the wheel in childhood using it as both toy and transport, but gave it up when I got my first car. My personal moment of epiphany, when I truly found the wheel, would wait until I was in my mid-twenties: broke, bored, and ready for change. As an isolated twenty-something new to Flag-town the wheel began to change me. After class, with nothing else to do and bereft of companionship (3), the woods and my cheap-but-capable bike were pretty much the only options I had.

Combining my assets, I began to ride. And the wheels began to change me.

It all sounds rather melodramatic, but for a lifelong ball-gimp, the ability to practice at something athletic and see marked progress, and at times even excel at it, was quite an uncommon experience. I rode. Got better. Made friends that rode. Got better still.

The wheels changed me.

All this might sound like bragging, but it isn’t. Extend a gimp some credit for finding something that worked, that helped him overcome a lifetime of being last-picked, passed over, and benched. Better still, give your own kid a break today and show them an alternative to the ball-oriented caste system that has already been engrained in their self-image; take them for a bike ride. Show them how much bikes matter to you; encourage them to value bikes over cars.

Save your kid from a lifetime of gimpiness: give your kid wheels (4)!


1. Gimpiness in this context should not be misconstrued as being synonymous with geekiness. By definition (mine) gimpiness is a purely situational malady, in many ways akin to being the proverbial fish out of water. Geekiness, on the other hand, is without question a genetic predisposition; it cannot be outgrown, outrun, or outsmarted. It can only be adapted to, to the best of the individual’s ability. I am living proof.

2. At first, like most, I skied alpine-style, fixed-heel boot, parallel turns on groomed corduroy, like everyone else I knew at the time. However, I was always curious and intrigued by the grizzled free-heel Telemark skiers that I would see gracefully making long turns below the lift on occasion. While there was nothing simple about the skills required to master alpine-style skiing, I didn’t really begin to appreciated the real artfulness of skiing until I began to Tele many years later.

3. By choice.  Mostly.

4. In my parent’s defense, they bought me many bikes and took me on many wonderful bike rides throughout my childhood. But, at the end of the day, they saw the bike as a toy, a bike ride as something to do for just for fun. Bikes did not define my parents. To some degree then bikes did not, until much later in my own life, begin to define me.

05 September 2012

Archival footage: Riding a bike is like that

The following post was originally published in November 2003 at FlagstaffBiking.org.

As a writer who often finds inspiration in words written by others, I worry some when it is Freud who lends me his best thought on a subject. I am a little scared of Freud like I am a little scared of Texas; it’s not likely that either can actually hurt me, but based on the little bit I’ve seen of each, they’ve both produced some unusual stuff.

But here it is anyway, my thesis d’jour via le plume de Freud: “Analogies... decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.” I think a good analogy is like Play-Do, like Legos, like Hot Wheels cars (and probably Barbie dolls, too); when we were little we played with these things, used them to make-believe and make sense of the world... to imagine what we could then only begin to understand.

Nothing much has changed, except that today, as a grown-up it’s often the bike that helps me understand; I believe the bicycle is perhaps the world’s most-adaptable analogy.

Three examples, chosen from among thousands:

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