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.
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.
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.