A lot more cycling

Just a quick update on my mileages.

Since March 30 of 2015, my car currently has a little under 2900 miles on it.  Yes, I used my car even less last year than the year before.

I also have cycled more.  Since that same date, 3/30/15, I now have 3015 miles on my bike (the warm winter helped).  Pretty good, I think, since my first year of returning to cycling I did roughly 1000 miles.

For those wondering how the bike and car compare overall, since getting the new car… well, the bike fell far behind since the previous post on this issue, thanks to the car racking up loads of miles during the winter of 14-15.  The bike is roughly 1500 miles behind as a result.

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Politics, what is it for?

So I just tripped over a news story about Jeb Bush’s reaction to Pope Francis’ encyclical, you can find it here.  The relevant bit within it reads:

Bush, a former Florida governor who converted to Catholicism 25 years ago, said religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

Accepting this Bush’s position as correct, then I’m forced to deduce that the political realm is not about ‘making us better as a people’.  So now I’m a little curious – what exactly does Jeb Bush think the political realm is for?

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A whole lot of cycling

So near the start of this year I bought a new car.  “What’s that to do with cycling?”, you might wonder.

My old car had long established that it was costing more to maintain each year than I would, on average, spend on a new car.  Even tho’ I typically only drive about 6000 miles in a year, I value the convenience of having my own car too much to do without one at this point.  I quickly put 700 miles on the new beast from the initial drive to get used to it and then the drive to visit my parents (and show it off to them).

Yet in July I noticed something.  I noticed that, just before another visit to my folks, my mileage on my bicycle for the year was within 200 miles of the mileage on my car.  And thus a goal was born.  The goal being to have, at some point in the year, more miles on my bike than my car.

It wasn’t a goal I obsessed about.  I started out just curious if I could do it.  But it did motivate me to use my bike more often.  Whether for simple errands, to take part in a couple more cycling meetups, or just to get out more – each time I was on the fence about such a decision, the goal pushed me toward cycling vs. not.

In mid-October I realized the goal might actually be achievable.  But I would have to do it before Thanksgiving, when the inevitable driving for the holidays would more than offset the dwindling mileage I’d be able to add to my bike in the colder weather and shorter days.  So I pushed a little harder, paying more attention to the weather for nice days to ride, and running errands to places farther away just for the extra mileage.

Yesterday, I succeeded!

The margin of success is small,  22 miles out of over 2500.  Tomorrow, while having Turkey day dinner with the in-laws, I’ll still be able to say I have more miles on my bike for the year than I have on my new car – by about 2 miles.  So it won’t be true by the time I get home, and the forecast looks to make it unlikely I’ll flip the advantage back to my bike before my visit to my folks shortly after.

But still, I made it!

I feel a bit more fit than I did in the summer, and my legs are noticeably a bit more muscular.  It’s impossible to know how much of that would have happened without this effort.  But one thing’s certain – it feels great to have achieved the goal.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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We need the immigrants

So there are lots of reports in the news of late about the immigration of huge numbers of children from Central America (or thereabouts).  Many people argue for sending them back.  Others respond by pointing out these are mostly children, that fled here because home is too dangerous, and sending them back home is sending them to death.

Both sides seem to miss one detail that is also important to the future of our country.  It doesn’t matter that these are children, what matters is that they come to make their lives better – just like most of our ancestors did.  By coming here, they are not just surviving, but investing in their future.

So let us invest in their future, and ours, and welcome them with open arms.  Develop public works programs akin to FDR’s New Deal to create the jobs, jobs that will improve the country instead of letting it crumble further into disrepair.  Teach them, hire them, share with them our history.

A history of how this country accepted, and welcomed, people who came here looking to make their lives better.  Let’s not change the very fiber of what made this country great out of fear of losing what we have.  Because acting on that fear will mean we have lost what once we were, a hopeful people looking to make a better future with all who will join us.

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A Big Deal

First, a few quick status updates, if only because my blog as a whole tends to be lacking in that regard.

I’ve been going to the gym for just about 2.5 years now.  I feel better for it, and those of you that actually see me in person have noticed the difference that losing roughly 60 lbs makes.  I intend to lose more, and the big deal that follows will likely help.

A little over a year ago I aborted my attempt to become a math teacher.  My main motivation for becoming one was to increase, if only slightly, critical thinking in our society.  But I ran into multiple examples in my first week of classes of how critical thinking needs to be discouraged in the teacher just to cope with the pressures (of teaching and of taking classes to become a teacher).  I realized that my own capacity for critical thought would be severely damaged if I continued.  Fortunately, Lesley University graciously refunded my tuition and fees.

As to what else I will do with myself after that aborted effort, after several months languishing aimlessly I’ve started an effort to develop my programming skills sufficiently that I might return to work that way, but who knows how that will go at this early stage.

Now for the big deal.

For some time now, my bike has been sitting quietly in a corner next to my computer desk, gathering dust.  The corner was getting more and more blocked by other items, making the bike look more and more abandoned – until a couple of weeks ago when I removed it from the corner as part of an effort to rearrange my desk.  With the bike more accessible, and the weather warming (far too slowly), I decided that today I would take it out for a spin.

So I spent a couple of hours this morning working on the bike, first finding all the bike maintenance kit I’d not used in a long time and, second, actually working on the bike.  It needed the seat replaced (I had a spare sitting around for some reason), the dust wiped off, and the front derailleur adjusted, but then it felt ridable.  And so I took it out for a spin!

I can’t recall when last I rode the bike – it’s likely the first time this decade.  It felt good to feel the wind, and comforting that I still could intuitively pop my foot into the pedal strap without looking.  The replacement seat needed adjusting before it felt close to right and it still feels more solid than I expect.  Also the pedal straps likely will need to be replaced because they catch too easily on my current sneakers.  And while I adjusted the derailleur to get it usable, it still seems slightly out of alignment in a way that I didn’t figure out how to fix.

But overall, the bike works and I used it and I feel good for doing so.  YAY!

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Self generated musing…

The path to wisdom is an endurance race against the sprinters of pride and arrogance, and when you cross the finish line, you lose.

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Scott Brown: Hypocrite, Old Boy, and Proud to be Both

In Massachusetts, our Senate race is between Scott Brown, the incumbent, and Elizabeth Warren, and is too close to call.

Scott Brown’s campaign slogan is “Vote the man, not the party.”

It marks him as a hypocrite because if he truly believed that sentiment, he’d run as an Independent, but he isn’t.  To emphasize this point, his campaign ads almost exclusively talk about his bipartisan record, in clear further attempts to divorce himself from his party in the eyes of the voters.

It also clearly demonstrates gender discrimination.  If he were at all sensitive to the issue, it would say “person” instead of “man”.  Yet he chose to emphasize he’s male instead of go for an alliterative, and thus more catchy, slogan.

He has this slogan on his campaign bus.  It’s about as prominent as a slogan can be.

Would it surprise you to learn that Brown is a Republican?

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