Friday, February 01, 2008

Non-Riding Observations

One day last week at 4 AM I was awakened by the sound of a train thundering by the house. I thought it strange being the nearest active railroad is over a mountain nearly twelve miles away. I eventually awakened sufficiently to realize the sound I heard was the snowplow going by. I closed my eyes and said to myself that I wouldn't be riding this morning.

Over the past few weeks I have been noticing some things that aren't riding related but have stuck with me long enough to write them down. They are non-riding observations and they probably say more about me and my problems and prejudices than they do about the people and situations I have observed. So here they are.

Standing by the Vespa at the local Sunoco station adding a gallon of premium gas to the tank my concentration is interrupted by a car horn. Not a honk but a continual piercing blowing. I look up and see a minivan hurtling towards a car pulling out into the road. The minivan is sixty yards away from the car and is speeding up. The horn continues to blow. The car hurries to accelerate in front of the racing mini-van. The horn is still blowing as the minivan brakes hard just short of the car's rear bumper horn still blasting. Taking this all in I can't help wonder how a driver can become so offended by an interruption in progress.

A New Year's resolution to lose 15 pounds has me recording calories. My goal is 2000 calories per day. Since the beginning of January I have meticulously recorded everything I eat and right it down on a 3x5 index card. Every morning when I sit down to write in my journal I record my weight and calorie intake from the previous day. I'm paying attention. Not worried about the quality of what I eat right now, just the calorie content. And after a month of this I can tell you that 2000 calories of food isn't much. Not much at all.

Every morning as part of my riding decision-making ritual I check the weather online. Before I get to the forecast details I see a display of the RealFeel® temperature. I'm not sure if the forecasters think I am an idiot and can't discern what the actual temperature means in relation to other factors or maybe they think I'm too busy or lazy to think for myself. The predictions of social impact of weather are so distorted that I wonder why I look at all. An inch of snow is a major disaster. And this isn't Virginia.

There is no better display of faith in fellow man than in watching a tailgater. I wish my faith was so strong that I believed nothing bad or unpredictable was ever going to happen to that car in front of me. Or maybe it's not about faith at all. Maybe it's a display of selfishness and fear that someone will get in front of them and destroy their hard won self esteem.

Walking across the street in front of my house the other day with my dog a car almost hit me when they decided not to stop at the stop sign. This isn't a straight through intersection but a T. And as the woman flies by me after her rolling stop (15 MPH) she gives me such an evil look that I figured I must of done something wrong. I thought about it a second but most of my thoughts pondered the effect of rice in a radiator.

Just this morning I sat in a local coffee shop. After a night of sleet and freezing rain things were a mess. Only two cars were in the unplowed lot. A cafe worker was busy throwing salt and gravel in a wide swatch between the front door and my car. I suppose to make sure I would be safe. I just wondered what all the fuss is about with a little snow and ice. Maybe it's lawyers. Or maybe it's a high percentage of fancy shoe wearers who can't navigate in foul weather. I sure hope it's not because we've forgotten how to care for ourselves in winter.

Anyways, things just have been popping into my head lately and thought I better release them. Now they're your problem. Rode to work yesterday. Routine and ordinary. Cold, clear, and 21 degrees F on the way to work. It was 33 degrees on the way home. I stopped at a park to watch the sun go down and appreciate that it was 5:30 PM and there was still some light. Spring can't be far off now.


Conchscooter said...

This list is much more fun than dead dear. Deer,I mean. You are a crack up- there is no meaning, other than too many things to keep us busy and too little time! Remember the joke about life being like a meal where the first diner says "What terrible food!" and the second diner replies "...and such small portions!" Life sucks and its too short.
The lady running the stop was late for eight appointments, the tailgater is desperate to arrive before his boss notices he's late and the guy with the horn just got yelled at for delivering wilted flowers...
And thats a longer comment than I've got time to write!

Sarch said...

There are times where ones' radar seems to pick up on these attacks on decency and common courtesy. Other times they go unnoticed or are so distant as to be unworthy of one's time.

Conchscooter makes a point with the fact that sometimes the general obnoxiousness of society is driven by factors we do not see. However from my viewpoint it is still....self-centered obnoxiousness.

Steve Williams said...

conchscooter: Kim was looking at pictures in my little digital camera last night --- nice little pictures of snow scenes, the dog, sugar and spice and everything nice, and then she comes to the dead deer picture. I hear a loud "Awwww!" Then she remembered I'm a photographer and that I shoot first, ask questions later...

You're observations are accurate and points towards a lot of the daily noise that may slowly be killing us. There are alternatives though but none too easy.

You didn't need a longer comment. This one was perfect.

sarch: Yeah, no matter the cause our behavior is still a matter of choices.

Bill Sommers said...

Just turning the calender to February makes me feel better. Spring really isn't that far off now.

It feels good to off-load thoughts like these after they've built up for awhile, but really, I think that all of those things happen in all of our little worlds too. Thats why we can all relate so well.

Have fun,

Evan "JabberWokky" Edwards said...

For the first time I gave in to my guilty instinct to check on your scooter. My wife works in the chemistry building, and I drive past your lot every morning. The photos you've posted are fairly anonymous, but I've been taking photos all over campus for a few years now. Until now I've pushed away the urge to swing by and see your scooter in person out of concern that I'd appear to be a stalker.

On Friday I finally succumbed. If you had driven through the ice coated world that morning, I wanted to bear witness. I'm glad you did the sane thing and chose not to, but I was secretly hoping that you had somehow managed a superhuman feat and somehow done it and I'd see the silver scoot sitting there under a thin coat of ice.

Steve Williams said...

evan: I took the day off on Friday to work in the darkroom but even if I hadn't I don't suppose I would have ventured out on the Vespa. I've ridden home in bad weather but don't often choose to begin the day that way anymore.

It will be there again.

I checked out your Web site and was particularly interested in the Moleskine section. I've never thought about a rubber band to keep the pen in place.

Heinz & Frenchie said...

And we thought that Florida had all the rude bad drivers. Here we have to live by the 5 second rule. At a red light, wait 5 seconds after the light turns green before pulling into the intersection. And look both ways!