Monday, December 15, 2014

Very Late Fall Velo News

After a cloudy, overcast morning yesterday turned into a sunny cool day in Olympia.  Fall is just about over--the trees are nearly bare--and the norm for this time of year is wet so the sunshine was most welcome.  I rode 25 miles through town and along the Chehalis Western Trail.  I am pretty much back to my pre-surgery mileage although I still pick my routes to minimize hill climbs.

The big news for cyclists is that the Pacific Avenue overpass is now open.  Some work remains and I'm sure a formal dedication is in the works soon but for my purposes it's complete.  The overpass gives a grand view of Mount Rainier in the distance and eliminates a most vexing road crossing.  It's now possible to ride the entire CWT without encountering major traffic.  Certainly an achievement worth  celebrating.

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Saturday, December 13, 2014


From the obituary of Robert Oakley:
He said a Vietnamese journalist once told him: “You know, you Americans look on us as if we were just a basket of crabs. You don’t really care what the crabs are doing in that basket as long as they don’t escape or as long as someone is not stealing the basket away from you.”
Mr. Oakley later added, “I thought then that he had that right. Our motives were often quite selfish even when disguised in very noble terms.”
 Got that right.


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Claudia Emerson, 1957-2014

For someone with whom I was not familiar prior to reading her obituary, I was surprised to learn that the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson shared some of my roots.  She grew up in Chatham, Virginia, not far from my hometown, Danville.  She graduated from the University of Virginia in 1979 five years after I moved to Richmond from Charlottesville.  I find something hopeful in that Ms. Emerson's writing epiphany occurred while she was working in Danville.  Her subsequent career, starting later in life, tells me that great talent can flower in the most unlikely places.

Godspeed, Ms. Emerson.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Other Side

Saigoneer has some excellent photos of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces from all years of the American War in Vietnam.  Two are particularly striking.  The first is of local militias firing at US warplanes.  They are firing what look like SKS rifles, a a 10 round, semi-automatic weapon, against a jet bomber.  I give them credit for determination.  That characteristic, determination, is woven throughout the photos, whether it's hauling supplies down the Ho Chi Minh trail, performing surgery in an underground bunker, sighting a mortar, or female guerrilla fighters at the ready with their weapons. 

The second striking image is of a US plane heading directly for a impact, trailing black smoke and its pilot parachuting into life as a prisoner of war.  Here, too is a reminder of that determination.  All along the images reveal low-tech, sometimes primitive technology.  Yet in the end a mighty force is brought down by the determination of its less powerful adversary.

It's a timeless story. 


I couldn't figure out a way to make a copy that would do the image justice.  You'll have to go there yourself or just take my word.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Steady State

From the obituary of John Downey, a CIA operative held prisoner as a spy in China from 1952 to 1973:
"When you talk about 20 years in a lump sum, it sounds like a big deal,” he told reporters. But, he said, “On a day-to-day basis, you just learn to go along.”
And we complain when the internet goes down.

Godspeed, Mr. Downey.  Thank you for the perspective.

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fall Velo News

Yesterday I rode my bike for the first time since my hip surgery eight weeks ago.  The ride was a short 14 miles along the Oly-Woodland and Chehalis Western trails but it felt wonderful to be on the move again.  My new hip worked perfectly and without the pain of its predecessor. 

The day was sunny and cold, a big change from my last ride in September.  The weather then was pleasantly warm, the trees filled with green leaves.  These days the landscape is beginning to look more winter than fall. The bare trees almost, maybe do, equal the ones still holding their now mostly brown leaves. 

I didn't get out until 2:00.  It was cool enough then but by 3:00 the the day was that much closer to sunset 4:37) and I could feel an noticeable drop in temperature, especially in the dark, heavily wooded sections of the trails.  I was happy to be on my way home. 


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Violence Against Women and Rented Mules

This quote stuck out like a sore thumb in the original story so it's no surprise that the disavowals and requisite apology came quickly.  That Virginians are quick to disown violence against women is comforting.  I am disappointed, however, that no one spoke against beating rented mules.  Or any animal for that matter.

Our fellow creatures on this planet deserve the same respect as homo sapiens