Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mid Summer Velo Transit News

Today's bicycle route included a ride to Yelm on the 94 Intercity Transit route and return via the Yelm-Tenino, Chehalis Western and Olympia Woodland trails--35.5 miles total. That's my longest distance ever. I occasionally hit 30 or 31 miles but that's rare. High 20's is my usual max. The whole affair took four and a half hours, including the 45 minute bus ride, my first with a bike.

The back of the bus looked full when I boarded. Apparently the people all knew each other as they had a lively conversation going on. It was not a quiet ride at all but the din was just background as we wound our way through southeast Olympia to Yelm Highway, through Lacey and on to The Red Wind Casino on the Nisqually Reservation where everyone else on the bus disembarked. The rest of the trip was quiet.

In Yelm I found the Yelm-Tenino trail and headed west. The trail is in decent shape, mostly flat, with a lot of shade that was much appreciated on this bright, sunny day. I rode to within a couple of miles of Tenino where I turned back to pick up Chehalis Western Trail for the 14 mile ride back to Lacey. Lots of shade here to but by this time the day is warming up but now I'm beginning to feel the extra miles.

Overall, I averaged 12.2 mph which is slightly better than my usual speed. Must be that I had all railroad grades rather than Olympia hills. My total 2011 mileage is 798, leaving 242 to reach my 1,040 annual minimum. With 17 weeks left, I'm pretty sure I will make or exceed that mileage even if I miss a few weeks.

Long nap in the afternoon.

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Mainlining to Oblivion

Further proof of our addiction:
The State Department issued its final environmental impact statement Friday for a controversial oil pipeline stretching from Canada to Texas, affirming earlier findings that its construction and operation will have “limited adverse environmental impacts.”

They always say that, don't they?

More to the point, why the fuck are we building infrastructure and blasting every last iota of fossil fuel out of tar sand to support a world economy that is not sustainable in the long-run?

Oh, I forgot. The big profit is always in the short run.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

A Damn Good Effort

My brother, Neil, rode in the Paris-Brest-Paris Randonneur this past week. Randonneuring is long distance cycling writ large. The Paris-Brest-Paris ride is 1,200 kilometers in 90 hours and requires that riders complete a series of shorter events that are still longer than most of us are ever likely to attempt. He almost made it. More than 77 hours and over 1,000 km into the ride he crashed, breaking his clavicle in the process and putting an end to his adventure.

I suspect he'll be back on the road as soon as possible. Neil is certainly the most accomplished cyclist I know.

You go, bro!

Heal well and quickly.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Speaking of Meaningless Gestures

A yellow ribbon is worth about as much as "Thank you for your service".

And over at Alternate Brain, Fixer tells it like it is with a hat tip to Odd Man Out and Susie.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quintessential Olympia

Yesterday was the 82nd Olympia Pet Parade. Here's some of what it looked like.

More photos at the local newspaper.


Strangling Thanks

The weekend media have a thought-provoking juxtaposition of articles on the separation of war and the military from the larger population. Foreign Policy presents "Strangle Yourself with a Yellow Ribbon" written by a four-time deployed Marine sergeant. A companion article on the comments to the original included a statement that, when stripped of specifics, fully summarized my own experience and feelings about military service:
I was never convinced by the justification for the Iraq invasion, so I never understood my deployment to be upholding and defending the Constitution or to be protecting the American people. So the only thing for which I can feel legitimately thanked is for abstractly being willing to die had there been a cause worth dying for.

More important than the kindred sentiments, however, is the author's accurate account of the very real and harmful effects of endless war borne by a few. For most Americans the wars are background. For soldiers and their families the wars are life and death. Civilians will never fully understand the consequences of war.

As if to prove the point, the Washington Post reports on the distance between wounded veterans and fans at a major league baseball game. This story features a civilian who actually looked at a legless veteran with his son and tried to imagine how the father's injury would affect the son who was about the same age as her her child. All she could muster was thank you for your service" but at least it came from a considered thought and not an autonomic response to something we'd rather ignore. Civilians do not want to think about the cost of war and are highly uncomfortable when exposed to its human wreckage.

The Post article offers some possibility for bridging the separation. At Georgetown University,
In February, the McDonough Military Association held its second annual “Free Beer and War Stories” night. The event was designed to give students who knew little of the military or the wars a sense of what life was like for deployed service members. It provoked a genuine exchange — more than 10 seconds, more than 60 seconds, more than 63 seconds — between the former service members and the student body.

Even better would be fewer wars but until then, all of us in whose name war is waged, should honestly recognize its full costs on the men and women who wage our wars.

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