Cold Week

Snow-Sky

It’s been a cold week in Stepford.  Temps one morning were in the low single digits, but my car’s dashboard trip computer reported the outside temperature was 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  The vehicle’s thermometer, though, ordinarily reports about 10 degrees higher than actual outside temperature.  No, I don’t have to be at work until about 8:30, but the clock’s also fast.

Cold-Morning

I went for one bike ride during the week, but only around the neighborhood.  After work during the week, I was not willing to suit up with layers of cold-weather bike clothes and put my life at risk sharing the roads with Stepford’s behind-the-wheel plant life.  Speaking of behind-the-wheel, here’s a windshield cartoon.  I most closely resemble the image at right.

Snow-Driving

Although we got a lot of snowfall, not much of it stuck, nor did we have much accumulation.   My son and I threw dry, powdery snowballs at each other when playing outside this week.  The snowballs many times were handfuls of snow that scattered like dust when thrown. 

Snow-Identities

We drew pictures in the snow and wrote messages because there wasn’t enough snow to build snow men.  My son revealed his mystery occupation in a snow message.  I’m thinking that, unless he’s truly a member of Barak Obama’s army of darkness or Homeland Security version of Stasi, he was influenced by having watched Spy Kids 1 & 2 here recently.  Because due to some happy providence, I am not a spy, my message revealed a different identity and my boy followed suit.

Saint Valentine’s Day Ride

We had family in from out of state for the weekend.  I bought my wife an Amazon Fire TV box as a Valentine’s Day gift.  The gift of entertainment is one that keeps giving, I guess.  Our Samsung Smart TV lost its ability to connect to our network a long time ago, possibly due to a little kid beating on a Wii game to get bowling pins to fall over, or something like that.

Saturday morning we went to our son’s children’s league basketball game (he scored several goals – he’s good at sports even though my wife and I dislike team sports).  We all went to breakfast/lunch afterwards and over ate.  In the early afternoon, my father-in-law, son, and I went for a bike ride in the neighborhood.  At a nearby middle school, we watched kids practicing softball – my son was fascinated by the catching, throwing, and batting drills. 

After we got home, my son and father-in-law played catch and my son practiced batting in the back yard.  I built a fire outside and made my son a cup of hot chocolate.  Temperatures were in the low fifties and it was a windy day. 

In the late afternoon, I got to take a solo bike ride.  I’m out of shape and probably rode no more than 12 or so miles, but a lot of that was against a strong headwind.  Here in Stepford, there’s a lake by the country club that’s probably spring-fed and impounded by an earthen dam.  I rode out to it, walked my bike through the gate that prevents passage of motor vehicles and down a fairly treacherous and rocky roadbed.  Where it flattened out I got back on the bike and rode to the dam, then through the narrow space between another gate and steel fencepost, then across the dam to the other side.

Once across the dam, I noticed a path off to the right and rode over there.  It descends along where the water that escapes the dam forms a stream with falls, and the path leads to the bottom of the dam in back.  I took some pictures there with my new Optio W30.  Riding back across the dam to the neighborhoods to finish my ride, I crashed into that steel fencepost and banged up my shoulder and knee a little, but was not much hurt.  Then I finished my ride.

Supernova-&-WaterfallWinter-WoodsWooded-Trail

Art Purchase

Smiling-Tree-Animal-Musicians

Poster board is 40’” x 30”.  Painting was intended to hang in a Decatur, Alabama shoe store the artist’s husband owned between 1961 and 1981.  The artist signed the painting for me, but could not recall the year she’d done it.  The letters the birds in the tree at right are holding stand for Decatur’s two high schools at the time the painting was done, so may serve to indicate the work’s date.

Last Friday, I bought a painting at day’s end from a lady who’d parked outside the office where I do some of my work.  The front, right tire of her car had irreparably flatted when she parked against a concrete parking-stop.  A woman from my unit and a man from maintenance had tried to help her get the tire re-inflated, and when that failed, had called a tow-truck.  When a colleague and I saw the truck pull up, I went to the unit where she was waiting to get her, but she had already seen the truck and was on her way out to meet it. 

When my supervisor and I left the building a little while later, we spoke with her.  I noticed in the back seat of her sedan a large, unfinished but interesting painting on slightly weathered poster-board and asked the artist’s name.  She said she had painted it some years ago to hang in her husband’s shoe store, in Alabama.  She said she had always intended to “fill in the background” but had never got around to it.  Because I had immediately liked the painting, recognized the artist’s talent, and knew the painting was complete even if unfinished, and because I had money in my wallet, I said, “I’ll give you twenty dollars for it if you’d like to sell it.”  The lady demurred, and said I could have it.   I did pay her for the painting, though, and felt good about my purchase.

The artist said she had been thinking about getting her pencils, paints, and surfaces unpacked so she could “release the artist” she said is within her.  I strongly recommended she do just that, and we told her we’d like to see anything else she’d like to sell.

What’s Going On

A Friend Died in December

Not somebody I’d ever actually met, but someone with whom I’d corresponded frequently over the years, Rodford Simon Barratt.  We’d both contributed to the online forum at www.foldingkayaks.org – Rodford had an Alpaca Pack Raft and, if I remember this right, another folding kayak.  We and another forum member had collaborated on a ridiculous thread about trains, Chattanooga, dancing, The Great Powers, espionage, and so forth that got about 250,000 views before the forum’s owner made its sub-forum viewable only by registered users.  Rodford was a professional dancer on stage and in film; he went online with Men Who Danced, and for some reason included me in the mailing list.  Oddly enough, since childhood and like the Rex Harrison character in The Honey Pot, I’ve wished I was graceful enough to dance well and acrobatically.  Rodford additionally started other online groups – Paddler’s Liberation Front which morphed from a blog to a Facebook group, and another for inline skaters.  Rodford and I exchanged emails about fatherhood, athleticism through the lifespan, numerology (about which I think he published two or three small volumes), waterways of England, dance, bicycling, and other subjects of interest to us both.  I wish I’d had the chance to meet the man in person.  He died in late December 2015 and I learned of his passing in January 2016.  One of Rodford’s friends reported that he died at home of heart failure while exercising – not a bad way to go.  I’ve felt a little depressed since learning of my unmet friend’s death.  He was somebody I liked.

In April of last year, another friend died, but I haven’t wanted to write about it.

I Haven’t Felt Much Like Writing

Probably related to my depressed feelings about Rodford’s death, my annoying holiday illnesses and injury, and sometimes trying workplace, I haven’t felt much like writing so far this year.  I’ve been spending most of my energies in the workplace and with family.

I Haven’t Been Spending Much Time Using Facebook

Controversies and conversations I could join, memes to mock, statuses to comment, and I’ve mostly abstained; don’t recall the last time I updated my own Facebook status.  I do recall changing my profile picture to the Alternative Universe Good-At-Being-Evil Dr. Doofenshmertz.  I have a school-aged son and a Netflix subscription – we watch a lot of Phineas and Ferb together.  It’s probably the best kid’s TV show you can watch with a First Grader.  I like the Alternative Universe Doofenshmertz because he’s a competent evil professional.  In the event I ever go badly off the rails, I’d continue to shoot for competence even though the empire I envision ruling would be a lot more interesting than Doofenshmertz’s.

Since writing this post, I have updated my Facebook status.

WWJD

While driving to work on a Tuesday or Wednesday, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a bumpersticker on the back of a truck and noted the word, Jesus, on it.  I thought it would say something about Real Men loving Jesus or something similar.  For some reason, though, I looked at the sticker and read it.  It’s vulgar and irreligious message cracked me up; in fact, I laughed out loud intermittently over the next couple of minutes.  On audio CD in the car, however, I’d been listening to Matthew’s gospel and it had got to the second chapter – the part about Herod having the male children, age two and under, in Bethlehem slaughtered to ensure that he who had been called by the Magi “The King of the Jews” would never arise to threaten his reign.  The juxtaposition in my mind of vulgar humor over against the seriousness of the incarnation of deity gave me pause.  Instead of making a long blog post about all of this, I talked about it with friends at our congregation’s Wednesday evening meeting.  I’m finding that I’ve been interacting more this year with people face to face than electronically; it seems fitting to me.

Done with Iphone

I ditched my wireless telephony carrier data-plan to save some money – turns out I’ll save over $300 per year switching back to the provider’s 99-cent flip phone.  I’m wasting a lot less time now that I’m not carrying around a tiny, Internet-connected computer with me.  The change has resulted in decreased photographic effort, although the new cell-phone does have a camera.  Things I miss about the Iphone?  Alvio Cyclemeter, camera function (Iphone takes better pictures than the flip-phone and files are easier to transfer), ability to waste time with Facebook and email, weather reports when the power’s out at home, easy to manage reminders, calendar, contacts from any computer.

I bought another Pentax Optio W30 to replace the one I gave my son when he was four years-old and has since that time knocked about enough that shutter speed and a couple of other features are no longer what they once were when I bought it as NOS.  The factory refurb I got for about $44 will now accompany me on my adventures in the real world.  My Jamis bike came with a Planet Bike cycling computer, but I hate it.  I’m planning to get a Magellan Cyclo 315 to keep track of my mileage and to keep me from getting bad lost in Tennessee hills and Midwestern farmland.  Because  I don’t care about all that heart-rate-and-cadence-monitor hokum, I’ll get the base-model.  It should be compatible with some of the Magellan topo maps that came with the Explorist 710 I got (used) to try out as an all-in-one cycling computer, GPS, and camera.  I found the 710 unsuitable for my purposes and, because the unit I bought was defective, I sent it back.

The one-time expense approach to cycling and photography appeals more to me than the data-plan subscription approach necessitated by the Iphone.  My Iphone 4 now sits in a desk drawer sans recharge.  I think it’ll stay there for a long time.

Interesting Workplace

This semester, I’m doing an internship in the locked psychiatric ward where I did my practicum placement last semester.  I’ve pretty much gotten over my fear of the features or manifestations of mental illness.  A large number of our patients are very old, so I am also learning about the dementing process and various types of dementia.  I’m tired by the time I get home in the early evening; my coworkers tell me this is normal.  The work is largely enjoyable, and I like both patients and coworkers.

Upper Body Strength

Since I’ve had less time for cycling than previously, I’ve been trying to improve upper body strength with pull-ups, push-ups, dumb-bells, medicine ball, and so forth.  My hope is that increasing muscle mass will help burn more fat.  When cycling, here lately, I’ve pedaled with my son so he can get out of the house, too.  We both need to be outside and if I fail to take advantage of this time we have to spend together, we’ll both regret it as we get older.  For Christmas a few years ago, I got an Iron Gym and a couple of weeks ago, I got a Power Press push-up board.  I’ve redoubled my efforts with the Iron Gym and have taken to the Power Press with some intensity.  We’ll see if I start building muscle and shedding fat.