Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There's a Poem Here Today

Here's a poem I ran across that has some special significance for me. I first read it at a time in my life when I was recovering from critical illness and having doubts about my health and longevity. I take a lot less for granted these days. This poem is a good reminder to me that each day is special. 

Look to this day;
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn.


For extra credit you can look up the author in Wikipedia here:
Ride On and Carpe Diem my friends.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Perfect Balance

A recent post by Richard Machida got me thinking, and that's always dangerous.

Here's the Link:

After the driving restriction from my heart problems was lifted, my goal for getting to and from work was to ride Max, walk or take the famous Canadian Subaru (Monty) in roughly equal proportions. Lately though I have been failing miserably at attaining that goal. I was riding Max too much. (Is that even possible?) For the last 3 weeks I had ridden the scooter almost every day. The walking hadn't been entirely abandoned because I walk the dogs frequently. It was poor Monty (the famous Canadian Subaru) that was being ignored.

So today I took out on foot to maybe achieve "A Perfect Balance". To hell with the car, I wanted to walk.
East Central Avenue in the early morning. Not too much traffic yet on a Friday.

I track my exercise with a phone App called Endomondo. It uses the GPS device in the phone to compute distances, calories used and all sorts of not very useful information. But it's fun and it shows that I have walked almost 500 miles in the last year or so. Not spectacular, but not bad. I have to admit I feel better for it. When I walk, I think. It helps clear out the cobwebs in my mind. Today as I walked, I was thinking about Richard's post. I was considering the balance in my life. Almost a Zen feeling. It was a beautiful morning, not quite as hot today. As I walked along, I crossed over a creek with not much water in it.

This creek never has a lot of water in it, but it's damn near dry right now.
I was thinking that it would be more of "A Perfect Balance" to have a little more water in that creek. Not so much as to flood it, something more in the middle. We could sure use some rain.

Walking is an excellent form of exercise. Here's a pic of the dogs on a recent evening walk. After dinner and a short nap, they are always ready to go and see what has happened in the neighborhood. My wife and I alternate nights to walk them, but we do it almost every evening.It's good for them, too.

Madeline (in front) is 16 yrs old. Sophie is 3.
Recently we were in the Taos, New Mexico area and did a little hiking near a ski resort. Now there's some walking for you. Uphill at 7,800 ft elevation. The dogs loved it. The humans did too. (Even me, the Cyborg)

The dogs tried to be in charge of the route, but seemed more interested in chasing small creatures.

Now some people are interested in extreme sports. I own a Subaru and a motorcycle (scooter). The next picture has a Subaru and a motorcycle, could it be me?  Naaah. A little too extreme for me, not quite "A Perfect Balance".

Taken from UK's "Top Gear" website
But I admit to doing something a little more extreme lately. My daughter and her husband have been doing some riding on mountain bike trails and have encouraged me to try one of the courses out. So on a Sunday evening we headed out to Millers Meadow.

My daughter looking pretty fierce just after our ride. She's a helluva rider and was my guide for the evening.
Endomondo says we did the 5 mile course in about 44 minutes averaging about 6.7 mph. Now that may sound slow, and it was, but let me tell you, some of it was pretty gnarly. (Yes, I said Gnarly)
Some of the gullies that had very unsettling bottoms to them. At times the path was just wide enough for your handlebars, not to mention ruts from the parched earth.

Will I do the course again? Probably, but I think I prefer just a nice smooth bike path. Maybe something a little less extreme, but it was fun and I hadn't done anything like that since I was a kid. I never fell that evening, but I admit to stopping and walking the bike through a few really deep and scary gullies.

A little blood was the result, but it was a lot tamer than it looked. You see, taking heart medications, including a coagulant, makes it a little harder to stop bleeding. This was just from brushing up against a tree branch.
Now, you have to realize that there are at least two ways to achieve "A Perfect Balance" Balances can be achieved in both a physical and a spiritual sense. Take this next picture for instance:

Just like from "A Field of Dreams", having a dog and a beer at the ball park.
If you drank beer and ate hot dogs all the time, obviously that wouldn't be too good for you physically. But moderation is possible in my book. Spiritually, though, spending an evening at the ball park with my son can be very rewarding. Some hat, huh?

When I was in college, as an elective, I took a course in nutrition. Thought it would be easy, it wasn't. Thought it might be boring, it wasn't. The professor was really good and I learned a lot. One thing I always remember is that she used to say that your body has a tendency to know what it needs for you. It will make you hungry for things that it needs. Now some nutrients, like most sugars, in excess can be very bad for you. But in moderation, all things can be good.

As I walked this morning I went by this fast food restaurant, popular in this area. They have nice greasy hamburgers, shakes and fries. But they also have fairly healthy turkey on pita sandwiches. I bet they serve more burgers, but at least they maybe try to achieve "A Perfect Balance".

Fast greasy food here with a balance of some healthy options.
Then right across the street from the eatery and at the end of my morning walk is the ER where I spent some time 18 months ago. A lot of this "Balance" stuff is my attempt to try and avoid this place in the future.

A place to avoid if you can, but pretty fantastic people there if you really need them.

Maybe the best way to achieve "A Perfect Blance" is to spend time with your loved ones.

At the ball park with my wonderful wife. We tested out a few beers that night. Everything in moderation.

Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bruiser Takes on a "Rail Trail"

On a recent Sunday morning Bruiser (my old mountain bike) and I went for a ride. I am able to connect to an old railroad line not too far from my home. I rode out east of town on city streets, but came back toward home on this rail trail. I have yet to see how far the trail goes east of town, but know it goes at least for a few miles. Where the rail line enters Wichita, the city planners have been making improvements and even paving parts of the line, but it isn't all finished yet.

This is the first time I have posted a bicycle video to the blog, but not the first time I have taken a video with the possible intention of posting it. Last year I took a number of videos from my bicycle, but never posted them and eventually deleted them. I would hold the phone in my hand and ride and talk about silly little stuff. Yeah, you ought to be scared about listening to someone talking to themselves, and most of those old videos were pretty bad.

Well, this one is probably not much better, but at least the length is manageable. Uploaded from iPhone to YouTube and then linked from the blog. We'll eventually see how this actually works.

Ride On and Carpe Diem, my friends,



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Guy at the Gas Station

There was this guy in a suit at the gas station filling up his SUV.

He was just standing there with his arms folded.

Staring at me. Watching me.

Not sure if he was admiring me, or thinking I was crazy. Ask me if I care.

I had ridden Max to work almost every day for the past 3 weeks. In very hot weather, too. But as long as you are moving, 110 degrees doesn't seem so bad , does it? At least it only takes me about 15 minutes to get home. And Thank God for Mesh Gear.

But I needed gas this morning and there was that guy filling up his SUV. I rode up and he was already there. Arms folded, watching me ride up.

I can do this pretty quickly. I don't even take off the helmet, just pop up the visor. Had my wallet in my jacket with my card ready to go, no need to even open the top case. Key out to open the gas cap. Done. Selected the mid-grade fuel, entered my pin #, popped the hose in my tank. I fiddle with the angle of the hose to maximize the fill. The guy in the suit is still watching me, arms folded.

A couple of minutes later, I'm done. Pop the gas cap back on. Key back in ignition, press start,
Vroom Vroom, I maneuver Max off the stand and start to move off.

As I ride away I notice the "suit" is still watching me, arms still folded, gas pump still pumping away in his SUV.

I wondered about him as I rode to the office. What was he thinking. We made eye contact, but I could not tell what his mood was. I thought for a minute he was maybe impressed that I rode a scooter and was doing my little part in saving planet earth by not using as much fuel as other people. Helping out with greenhouse gases, you know.

But then I thought, maybe he was thinking that I was an idiot to ride a two wheeled vehicle in such ridiculous hot weather. And he might be right about that. I thought about him riding on into work, in his air conditioned SUV, cold air blasting in his face, wearing his suit and tie. Thinking about all the other suited people he would interact with today. Lots of them riding their SUV's to work, cold air blasting as they wore their suits and ties.

But then I thought as I said before:

"I don't really give a S&%T what he was thinking"!

He just doesn't know. 

He doesn't know the feeling of freedom! He can't really appreciate how cute that blonde is, in the Honda next to you at the stop light that you just pulled up to. He doesn't smell the aroma of the bakery you just passed by. He doesn't see the color of the trees, how really green they are. He can't imagine the exhilaration of blasting down a country road with no traffic on a beautiful day. He's got windows between himself and the rest of the world while he's in that SUV. As Pirsig says, those windows are like TV screens that insulate you from the real world around you.

He just doesn't get it.

But I do.

Ride on and Carpe Diem my friends!


PS. I bet he spent a lot more than $5 at the pump this morning! Man, He really doesn't know!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Let's Have a Party!!

Legal Disclaimer: It is not my intent to promote the interests of any politician or political party. My sole intent is to poke some fun at things I see and wonder, like many people, at the silliness and dysfunction of politics as it exists today.

I keep telling people that we have 3 viable political parties here in Kansas. I've said this for years! We do have lots of independents, libertarians and others, but they don't seem to be able to wield much political power by themselves. So we are left with:

Conservative Republicans
Moderate Republicans

It used to be that the Republicans hated the Democrats and the Democrats hated the Republicans. Okay, maybe hate is a strong word. Mistrust and dislike are probably more accurate.

But anymore, to me, it's more like the 2 wings of the Republican party hate each other (and yes, hate just might be accurate) and the Democrats are all sitting around wondering what is wrong with all those other people and why are they so mad at each other.

And in the past we have usually elected Democrats or Moderate Republicans as governors. A Democrat would seemingly get elected in years where the Republicans were mad at each other, a Moderate Republican otherwise. It's been a long time since we had a Conservative Republican governor, until 2 years ago, when we elected Sam Brownback, a former US Senator.

The political situation is now very interesting. We now have a Conservative governor, the House is controlled by the Conservatives, the Senate by the Moderates and the Democrats and Independents have been sort of relegated to the sidelines. Some have even said we should rename the state of Kansas to "Brownbackistan". Oh, God, I said it; I'll probably get hate mail now, or even worse, audited!

Again, no opinion from me regarding right or wrong, just an observation.
The new county courthouse is in the background, the older one in the foreground. The older building has beautiful architecture. We just outgrew it. Some offices of the county are still housed in the old courthouse, among them the "Elections Office". That office was where I was headed today to see if an injustice had occurred and, if so, to demand justice.

So here's the deal. The primary election is coming up August 7. In Kansas, both the Democrats and Republicans have "closed" primaries. For many years voters who registered as independents, could go to the primary election and select which party they wanted to vote for.  Not Anymore! You have to be registered as a Democrat to vote in the democratic primary, or Republican to vote in the republican primary. Period!

And here's more to the deal, this year!  All the action is on the Republican side of the ledger. In some races, there are no Democrats even running, and those that are running are generally unopposed. But there are many key races with Conservative Republicans and Moderate Republicans vying for the same seat. In fact, it could be said that the 2 wings of the Republican party have declared war on each other, each calling each other RINO's (republicans in name only).

So what did I do? I wanted to be where the action is. Now, mind you, in past elections I have voted all over the place, sometimes Republican, sometimes Democrat, sometimes 3rd party, I usually vote for the person more than I vote for the party. Silly Me!  So I re-registered as a Republican even though I don't have strong feelings for the party. Frankly I don't have strong feelings for any party and never have.

So on the last day possible for registering to vote, which can be done on the Internet, I registered as a Republican so that I could vote in the Republican primary, which is where all the action is. In fact, for most races, it appears, the general election will be a foregone conclusion.

Then a few days later I get this postcard in the mail. It says "Certificate of Registration". It also says "Democratic" Party. I think, "WTF"?

So on Monday, postcard in hand and picture ID in my wallet...
New Law this year, meant to combat the travesty of something like 10 cases of voter fraud in the last 15 years.
You think I'm kidding?
I march down to the courthouse to demand satisfaction, see what was wrong, see if there was a vast right wing (or left wing) conspiracy, see if my rights as a citizen of the world had been violated, etc. I was prepared to contact the local newspaper if the election office had "screwed up". I was ready to even "blog" about it! That'll get some action real quick, NOT!

I was met by two very nice ladies at the front desk and I told them I had an apparent problem with the postcard I received. One of them simply said that everybody who was registered to vote was to receive a card to inform them of their proper districts for various political races and that the information for those cards was generated by the computer systems about 3 weeks ago. She also asked me when I had re-registered, I told her and she said that I should receive yet another card in the mail reflecting the newer re-registered information.


But she even took it a step further and said "Let me double check what we have for you in the computer, It'll only take a moment". Sheepishly, I said, "That would be very nice". And, of course, it seems I was properly registered as a Republican like I had originally wished.

So there you have it!

RINO, I am

DINO, I used to be

iINO, is that iPhone in name only?

And finally on a plaque in front of the courthouse.....
Can't we all just get along?
Ride On, and Carpe Diem, my friends