They say you can’t legislate morality, but sure as hell they can legislate immorality.
September 24, 2012
A few weeks ago, Tawnya and I got up early and drove to Muncie to get a few miles in on the Cardinal Greenway. For both of us, it was our first time on the trail. We ended up riding more than fifty miles.
On our way back in, Tawnya stopped and said, “did you see that cell phone?” I hadn’t seen anything but I turned back around anyhow and sure enough, there was a Samsung Galaxy S II with a Ballistic brand tough case on it. There had been severe thunderstorms a couple of days prior to our ride, and I wasn’t optimistic that the phone would even work. We tossed it up on the dash of the car after we had loaded up the bikes, took the phone apart, and put the air on to dry out any moisture that might have gotten in.
I toyed around with it for a bit when we got back to the house, but it appeared to be bricked until I flicked my thumbnail over the battery contacts a few times, then plugged it back in. It fired up immediately and the GPS sports tracker the owner had been using during the ride still held the date, time, and location from when the battery had finally discharged after it fell from his bike. I wondered if he hadn’t gone to the GPS app’s website to see where it said his phone was. Evidently not.
The phone had been laying there for more than a month, exposed to the summer’s droughty heat and sun, and then through a drencher of a thunderstorm. The battery didn’t want to hold much of a charge but I kept it plugged in while doing enough research on the phone’s contents to identify the owner. It gave up his gmail address and I sent him a note:
Found your Galaxy SII smart phone on the Cardinal Greenway yesterday. It still works. You owe a shout out to Ballistic phone covers…this thing took on the storms we had earlier in the week and lived to tell about it. Give me an addy to mail it to you, or make arrangements to meet up. You probably got another phone by now, but it doesn’t hurt to have a back-up…and man do you ever have a story to tell your friends now!”
He had, indeed, replaced the phone, but said he was glad I’d found it because there was information on it that he needed. I shipped it back to him the next day. A couple days after that I got an email from him confirming that he had received it and asking me if I wanted to hit the trail with him sometime.
I think I’ll take him up on that soon.
November 26, 2011
Today is the last day the world will ever have to suffer through the 1970′s ICEL translation of the Mass in English (unless you live in Hong Kong). Tomorrow, the third edition of the Missal takes effect.
August 14, 2011
A tale of two bikes in one day. Laying aside that I was dallying around the house waiting for the bike shop to call with the good news that the recently acquired recumbent was ready to pick up, when I should have been at the office picking up some loose ends and working on a paper that is due shortly, I’ll simply say that there is less room in the garage because I was gifted a ROTS.
Let me define a couple of terms. ROTS is short for Rusty Old Ten Speed. Specifically it is a Concord Pacer S/S, which is the result of the bike boom of the 1970′s that didn’t completely smolder out until the early nineties, when it became more cost prohibitive to produce these “cheap” steel frame bikes. When I say “cheap” I’m talking for the period when they were produced. If produced today, they would be solidly mid-level bikes. One poster on a forum dedicated to OTS has claimed that after Armageddon, the only things still around will be cockroaches and these old ten speeds.
After a few minor adjustments and an appointment with the tire pump, it was ready to roll. And yes, I did swap out the stock brakes and safety levers with a pair of cheap mountain bike shorties. The cables on the originals were frayed. The hardware has been laid aside in case I decide to keep it original, which is a long shot. The shorties are temporary though. Even though it needs to be taken to the shop for a tune up, new cables, wheel truing and perhaps repacked bearings, it still blows my Diamondback mountain bike off the road. Don’t get me wrong, I love my MTB, and it will remain in my ride rotation, but the OTS? This little booger can scoot. It has the original Sungear suicide shifters, too. They don’t lock in, you adjust them to your liking., which means you can throw the chain if you damn well please or you just aren’t careful. I’m thinking of riding this in the Hilly Hundred. Yes in fact I am thinking of riding in the Hilly Hundred since you asked. I’m not planning on racing in it, just finishing.
Mark the middle of October on your calendar and meet me there.
August 13, 2011
Richard Vonnegut introduced me to Dan Henry this past Wednesday, along with several other topics that rambled on as effortlessly as we did as we talked from atop our bikes. On our past discussions we had mostly focused on the Central Indiana Line that takes over where CSX leaves off coming east through Shelbyville and heading through Waldron, St. Paul, and Greensburg before winding up in Cincinnati. Side topics on our two rides (so far) included strategies for working with people who oppose trail projects, the ideosyncracies of nineteenth century Indiana architecture, good bicycle frame design, and the possible purchase of a house that is for sale at an important junction of the abandoned south bound rail line we were studying as we rode to Flat Rock and back from Shelbyville.
The longer we rode and the more we checked out the abandoned line, the more I got the impression that wheels were turning furiously in his head. At least I hope so. The reason I labeled this post “trail marker three” is because of an email he sent me early this morning alluding to a map he had procured from the DNR relating to this abandoned trail.
“You will like it,” he stated.
I hope so. I very much hope so. More to follow…
July 30, 2011
Several weeks ago I spent a few minutes of my lunch break wandering through the Post Exchange. I usually go in for a seasonal beverage; it was summer and so I grabbed the customary Arizona green tea with ginseng. That secured, I stopped by the short shelf devoted to books to see what was there. Now and again I have found a real gem stuck between the standard military histories and what-not. On that day I spied Anthony Esolen’s “Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization” and flipped through a couple of dozen pages enjoying such sidebars as “Books you’re not supposed to read” and short commentaries on men and events that shaped the West.
Running out of time but not willing to leave Anthony behind in the book section, I headed to the check out, paid for my tea, and made a contribution to the well being of the Esolen clan. Flip forward to this weekend. Friday’s mail contained a slick format hybrid catalog-magazine from Memoria Press titled “The Classical Teacher.” It is a throw back from the days we were homeschooling our two oldest kids and I was learning more and more about how dumbed down our culture has become, and how lacking my own education had been, but I digress.
Esolen snagged a page 40 article on ten ways to destroy your kids’ imagination. As a whole, the article was okay. At its worst, he did a blend-two-gether of two separate topics that should have been treated separately. However, if he had done so, the part that got cut would have been the part that moved me. I’m glad they ran it with its shortcomings because he was talking about books. Here’s a pull quote:
“Books are bulky and inconvenient–like rocks, and trees, and rivers, and life.”
You get his gist? This is something I’ve struggled with as the world becomes more and more digital. I don’t mind admitting it, I’m a tech junkie. I love having the latest gadget as much as the next guy. I’ve written before on these (digital) pages that I’m impressed-as-hell with the people on the Google books project where hundreds of thousands of public domain books are being placed online for free, and all you need to access them is a device that has e-reader software on it. It is a grand feat. But…
I love books, and not just for reading. E-readers are great for reading books, but there are books on my shelves from different stages of my life, all the way back to the time when I was still living with my folks. There is Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition from Mrs. Lee’s eighth grade English class. ”It” is up there from my voracious Stephen King days. Aldo Leopold occasionally calls to me from Sand County, and a tattered and dog-eared copy of Malone’s “Small Unit Leadership” that rode in my rucksack when I was a second lieutenant sits to the far right in my military section. I love each of them for a different reason, some with almost the same intensity as I love some of my friends and cherish the memories of the ones that have passed on. I can’t have that intense a relationship with an e-book that disappears and reappears when I switch my current gadget off or on.
If you shed a tear on your e-book, the salt doesn’t sink into a page. If you get caught in a summer shower with Ridley Pearson those two pages won’t forever be mottled and bumpy like the ones in a real book will. While there is some highlighting and footnoting capability in the best e-readers, it isn’t the same as angrily scribbling comments on paper margins or double or triple-circling a word that was so well chosen by an author that you have to find a way to celebrate it.
I still haven’t addressed the whole touch, smell and heft issues, but they’re more familiar to anyone who has thought about any of this even for a brief moment. So I won’t. I’ve had arguments with myself about culling back some of my shelf space if I could get the same “book” on my e-reader. I’ve done the whole fire hazard argument with myself, as well as the clutter argument, and well…all of them. I believe I’ve been thorough, and I’ve made my decision.
To hell with it, I’m keeping my hefty, cumbersome, yellowing, tear-stained, bug-slammed, mud-draggled and rain-splattered library, and I will continue to add to it. I believe, and will to the day of my death, that a room without books is like a body without a soul. So if you come over and I have to excuse myself while I move a stack from here to there, or if the room smells too much of archival paper, cracked bindings and dusty leather, I’ll light a Yankee candle to mask the smell for you and get on with the entertaining. Will I keep adding to my e-library, too? Don’t be silly, of course I will. If the only way I can get hold of an otherwise rare or desired book is in digits, then I’ll take it any way I can get it. But it just won’t be the same, y’hear?
July 26, 2011
In the never ending saga of Jim and the trail, we come now to a segment rife with good feeling. Join me, if you will, for a twenty mile bike ride on the Nickel Plate Trail in Miami County north of Kokomo. It has been almost three years since I was able to enjoy any significant portion of it. I won’t bore you by explaining the elation I felt as I pulled my bike out of the car, put the front tire back on, and started south from the Wallick Road trailhead. I spent a moment remembering the autumn I first discovered the trail, while I was selling insurance and most of my employment involved evening appointments. Sleeping in late and riding a bike all morning was the closest I’ve come to “bein’ a kid again” in my adult life. I don’t think it would be a bad pursuit to find a profession that allowed one to do just that.
It was, however, twenty minutes ’til eight in the evening when I got started, having driven up north after work to attend my weekend National Guard drill at the Kokomo armory. If you’ve been to Indiana in the summer, you know that when we began using DST, the fools who chose Eastern time zone should be rounded up and shipped to a Siberia sort of place where they mow lawns until ten thirty at night.
The photo above is of the ten mile mark between Miami and Bennet’s Switch. The ten miles is from the Wallick trailhead, so I was halfway done when I snapped the pic. I followed that by chugging half of a bottle of Gatorade and setting off, back to the car. It had gotten up to a hundred that day, but the trail is mostly under canopy, and traveling at a near constant fifteen miles per hour kept my skin cool enough as long as I continued drinking water and sweating. There’s only one problem with sweat and the evening cooling cycle. Your scent and the difference between the ambient air temperature and your skin temperature turns you into a target for any annoying six legged creature with wings that has either a nose or heat sensors.
The bugs had no problem finding me, but I was fine as long as I kept my helmet and riding glasses on. But…
Do you know, I really should have bought the ones with the clear lenses. The dark amber UV protection ones looked so much sharper, though. Fifteen miles into my twenty mile ride, being under canopy, the trail was mostly dark shadows. With glasses up, everything was fine. The trail was well lighted in the gloaming. Glasses down, blind. Glasses up, bugs aiming for my corneas like darts into a dart board. I decided to brave the bugs instead of becoming a permanent fixture on the trail, upper body embedded in the hollow of a tree.
I put my head down and raced the sun down. Three miles head down with no let up was the longest I’d gone bonkers on a bike since I was a teen. I was exhausted when I reached the car. But I won. There was about five minutes of light left. I finished the Gatorade kicked back against the side of my P.T. Cruiser as the last colors of the pastel sunset palate melted into blue velvet.