Sunday, January 28, 2007

Aren't we in Need of a Wow

I swang by the protest on the National Mall yesterday not to lend my voice to a cause but to experience it. It was a hodge podge of causes and events. People milling about protesting whatever cause they felt like protesting with only the consensus that they weren't happy with what was going on in the world and felt like raising their voices.

I'm not sure how many folks were down there. The official count was 50,000 but all of them weren't there when I was there. I rode around trying to find the focus, the center of this mini-universe, but could only find the masses. I guess in the end I was slightly unimpressed.

This leads me to the title line, aren't we in need of a wow? By that I mean aren't we supposed to be impressed with something? Impressed by our leaders, the events in our lives and the people we put faith in. Too often being ok is confused for mediocrity and that is genuinely dangerous. Mediocrity is a term that means nothing to me. It is the absence of feeling, a total sense of numbness.

Numbness is only ok if you intend on avoiding pleasure and pain-- if you intend on doing nothing except living and dying. I cannot tolerate a lack of motion, a lack of passion or a lack of feeling. I am as guilty as the rest in that sometimes I make my decisions based on avoiding pain or discomfort. However, in the moment, making a decision based on what will be the least painful is making a decision to do nothing. Risk something and you might be rewarded, risk nothing and you'll never be disapointed because you'll have nothing. For me, I'll take the former.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Post Express

In an effort to stay in front of the curve, or better put, to desperately seek to stay "hip" in the DC scene, I've started reading the Post Express everyday. The Express is the free version of the Washington Post that is available at just about every bus stop and metro station in greater DC. It's phenomenal because it gives you the headline news version of the top events of the day. I supplement it with CNN, SI and Drudge at lunch and then I know what's going on in the world or at least I can pretend like I do which is more important than anything else.

It typically takes me the whole ride in on the bus to read most of the stories in the Express, minus the lifestyle section because frankly I could honestly care less about women's fashion, crappy local bands, and what was today's topic--oh yeah the "slim suit." I don't even know what that is, but I'm sure it was terrible. The last couple of pages are the human interest stories and celebrity gossip. That section gets read when I hit the last two stops before mine and I'm always left with the same thought...who cares about celebrities?

The Express is top quality because the headlines for the one or two paragraph blurbs about Justin, Nicole or Paris are always a touch condescending and normally pretty damn funny. The fact remains . . . why do these people even deserve one or two paragraphs? I struggle to find one thing that 99% of celebrities do to provide value to anyone's life. There are exceptions but for the large part the only thing a celebrity does that makes them interesting to me is act or perform. It's just a shame that all the junk that ends up in the newspapers and on tv has nothing to do with their acting or performing and everything to do with the rest of the train wreck they call their lives (i.e. that Lindsay chick who has been in-and-out of rehab).

I think if we paid as much attention to the in-work lives of our elected officials and decisionmakers as we did to the out-of-work lives of irrelevant celebrities there would be a heck of a lot more accountability for bad or poor decisions. But why should we worry about the economy, foreign policy and other pertinent social issues when we can spend our time worrying about who said what on Grey's Anatomy?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ice It's the New Gravel

Something is inherently wrong with me, I know this in my heart and many people have told such. It snowed in DCland this past weekend. C-Dog and I were out there on Sunday for two hours in 26 degrees, just long enough for us to hit the first flurries and for our water bottles to freeze. Then on Tuesday, after the streets were supposed to be cleared and I was convinced that there would be work to go to, I returned to my outdoor riding plan. Little did I know that despite the 35 degree high of the day before, there was still snow and ice left on the ground.

Why there was snow or ice befuddles me. The DC area only got hit with maybe 1/10th of an inch of snow, but the rules of the world change once you cross into Maryland (where my rides often take me). It's true, and other's likely would agree with me, that once you enter into Maryland everything changes. In Maryland, I've crossed paths with foxes that talk to me and inform me of upcoming traffic and deer that suggest an alternate route. Also, in Maryland the rules of physic don't apply freezing happens at a different temperature and a full and the brakes on cars don't work while the horns do. I don't try to understand it, I just accept it.

Needless to say the snow and ice were an unwelcome surprise. It reminded me of the days back in Kansas where gravel road riding was the only way to go. For us Kansans it's not that we chose to ride gravel roads it was just that we didn't have any other options. Thankfully, I have been trained for all types of road conditions.

There was a race not to long ago where I found myself passing in the gravel on the side of the road. The part that shocked me was not that I was doing it but that others were impressed by that fact. I'm guessing from now on I'll have to pass in the snow too.

On Saturday (in two days) there is going to be a "Vietnam-era sized" protest on the National Mall. Now, I'm not much into talking about the merits of the protest, but I will of course have to end my morning ride with a tour of the Mall. I think that it should be a new rule that whenever presented with a "Vietnam-era sized" protest all rides should end with a tour of said protest. Hopefully this one won't have the same level of anti-climax as the million man march.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Now it's too Damn Cold to Ride

I fight the impulse to stay in bed on many a morning and then I fight the impulse to just ride the trainer inside rather than voyage out into the cold world of pre-dawn life. This morning the impulse to stay inside won out. I pulled up on the temperature this morning and it read 28 in the District with 18 out in the suburbs. I decided that was just a little too cold for me to ride.

In Kansas we had the Tilford-Topeka-cold-weather-riding rules. When the temperature dips below 32 degrees you are to ride only 1 mile per degree. So if it's 30 degrees you do 30 miles. However, at some point in time it just becomes stupid to get all dressed for the cold and ride for only a few miles. I figure that point is somewhere around the point where it takes as long to get dressed for the ride as it does to ride the ride.

I know some may think I'm a pansy for following this rule, but I was told never to argue with the Tilford-Topeka rules. I do break them on occassion, like when I was in Chicago for Christmases past and rode in 20 degree weather for 40 miles or until my left foot freezes. However, in the pre-dawn world I'm not going to fight against the rules. It just seems like it's colder when there is no sun out, 25 degrees is just a lot colder at dawn than it is at noon.

So I've labored to create my own personal local rules based on the aforementioned ones. Therefore, the local DC rules are as follows. During daylight rides I will ride until my foot freezes. After it freezes I'll turn around and ride tempo home. However, during pre-dawn rides the rule is that the 2 hour 15 minute daily ride will be standard until the temps dip below 30 degrees. At 29 degrees I will stay inside and ride the trainer, as much as I hate it. If it dips below 15 degrees I'm not going anywhere and that includes to work. If it is below 0 degrees I'm not even getting out of bed.

Wind chill does not count. Wind chill is the weak man's way of saying it's colder than it actually is. For anyone who disagrees with me try living in Chicago for a winter.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On This Occassion

It's the start of a whole new year, which is even better than the start of a new week. Thank God that New Year's Eve has now passed. Slowly, I'm getting a sense that Jan. 2 is a much better holiday than the others. If for no other reason than suddenly the pressure to make the proceedings days the "best days of the year" is gone.

I recently received the pleasure of the beloved LullaBelle. Lulla serves to remind me of the pleasures of slowing down one's life to the point where you can actually enjoy the joy of taking a deep breadth. I spend most of my day hustling to and fro from one file to another spending minimal time on each task yet endeavoring to obtain maximal output. This of course is an impossibility, just as trying to get wireless service free from my neighbors.

So much rides on the moment to moment existence that I don't pause enough to enjoy the overarching joys of Lulla's company or anyone else's company as a matter of fact. I think that my resolution this year should be about this: don't try to make each moment great or filled with meaning, but rather enjoy each moment for what it is. There is nothing special about one Saturday night over one Tuesday afternoon. They all have the opportunity of being the best of our lives. Take pleasures when and where they come.

I resolve to enjoy the life that I have and not the life that I imagine I should have because someone on tv tells me that I should. What is your resolution?