Close To The Street

Long ago, in my senior year of High School, I took an elective class with the somewhat meaningful name of L.E.A.P. Taught by a somewhat radical (for the time) teacher, the acronym was a perfect fit not only for the teacher but also for the purpose of the class itself. LEAP stood for “Learning and Education through Active Participation”.

The whole purpose of the class was to move the classroom… well out of the classroom and into the city where we lived. One of the basic philosophies that the class centered around was that the structure of the city itself, built around the car and freeways, prevented you from really learning about the city, its places and the people who live there. A significant part of the class involved getting us off the California Read the rest of this entry »


On What I Learned About Long Distance Biking

There are very few absolutes in this world, so in the interest of sharing wisdom, here are a few things that I have learned while doing long distance training:

Badger State Trail

Badger State Trail

  1. Every hill has a top and eventually, every hill has a downhill. This is true even in the event that someone, someday climbs Mt. Everest on a road bike. (Believe me… it will happen!)
  2. Some days it’s going to rain, some days it’s going to be hot and some days it’s going to be cold. Remember,┬áthere is no such thing as bad weather …. only bad clothes. This holds true not just for cycling but also for hiking and for enduring the long (long) Midwest winters.
  3. While riding, the “music of the spheres” * always trumps the “music of my iPod”.

Read the rest of this entry »


Great News … In Balance

So What Shall We Say Then…. Shall We Keep On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? Romans 6:1

The Gospel is great news. Period. Regardless if you believe that — or not — the Gospel is probably the one set of facts in history that has had the most ┬álasting and profound impact on humanity for over 2000 years. It has done more to shape how the human race sees the universe than any other truth ever has.

At the core of this good news (Gospel) is grace – a concept that has been applied to us by God so that we have the opportunity to have a relationship with God our creator even though we, in ourselves, Read the rest of this entry »


Design and Concepts and Consuming

I recently finished the annual Fast Company “Design” issue that is published about this time each year. With the ever present Jony Ives gracing the front cover, it was obvious that this issue was going to have something to say about Apple and their philosophy of design. (Spoiler alert — the Apple design process is so secret that the only sources that Fast Company could rely on for the article were people who used to work at Apple and could legally say something about the Apple design process).

What I expected and what I got from these articles were two completely different things. Read the rest of this entry »


Turning It Down

In America, we’re not used to living smaller. And it’s no wonder given that we live in the land of “super-size it”, SUVs and “bigger is better”. It’s the way I and my fellow Baby Boomers were raised and to us, it’s as natural as breathing.

hummer-h2Recently though, there are a lot of us Boomers (and Post-Boomers) who are thinking that maybe we’ve taken this “more is better” thing a bit too far. We’re realizing that there is a price to pay for all this growth – a price to the environment and our community and a price to our sanity.

My wife and I realized this about 7 years ago when work (or a sudden lack thereof) circumstances and financial circumstances forced us to consider how much we had and how to get by with less. Before our downsizing, we were happily rattling around on two acres of land (most of which needed to be mowed each week)
and living in a 3800 square foot house with two late model cars and lots (and lots) of stuff that we had accumulated over our 12 years of marriage.

Read The Rest …


What Happened To All The Other iPhones?

iphone_4Apple issued this statement today about the pre-orders of the iPhone:

Yesterday Apple and its carrier partners took pre-orders for more than 600,000 of Apple’s new iPhone 4. It was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day and was far higher than we anticipated, resulting in many order and approval system malfunctions,” the company said.

Congratulations, I say, that someone is listening to the consumer enough so that they are building products with a huge amount of initial demand. I applaud Apple for creativity and good marketing, outstanding design and superior engineering. (Oh … and how many other CEOs can you name that get a standing ovation when they walk on stage? Steve Jobs is as much of an icon and loved as much as the iPhone is).

But, on the other hand…. Read the rest of this entry »


Night Time Bicycle

bikelane-nightHow many riders subscribe to the unwritten rule “when the sun goes down, the bicycle goes away”.

I did — until recently.

I became a night-time biker a few months ago when I started teaching a class that ended at 8:30pm. After class, it was ride home as the only option.

The ride from school to home turned into an absolute pleasure. First, there is almost no traffic at 8:30pm and second, the absolute peace as you quietly glide through neighborhoods and dark streets is amazing. The first night, the moon was full, the lake I ride around was perfectly calm and it was just cold enough for a light jacket.

The perfect end to any day.

My only other experience with nighttime rides was when we were living in Vermont. We were on our way home in a car, it was the end of summer, there was a full moon and we were just starting up Terrible Mountain (no kidding … that’s what it’s called and if you have ever biked it, you know why).

Far ahead of us, we saw a pair of blinking red tail lights and as we got closer, the lights turned into two cyclists out for a long nighttime climb. At the time we saw them, I thought they were nuts. But now I understand. There’s an appeal to a quiet nighttime ride.

I am not sure that my rides will ever match a full moon climb up Terrible Mountain, but I’ll take a calm city commute at night as a good substitute!

Haven’t tried an after sundown ride yet? I really suggest that you do.

After all…. every ride is a good ride!

 

photo credit: treehugger.com

The New Wave Nature Walk

Remember (or take my word for it) the “nature walk” that you used to take in elementary school? It was supposed to help you connect and appreciate nature.

I supposed that they still do formal nature walks today but I’m not sure.

I ran into someone this week who is teaching a college level extension course on Global Warming. He related to me how he was having a problem getting the students to have and appreciate some connection to the earth. Things like global warming and rising ocean levels are important, he said, but from a student’s point of view, they are having a hard time bringing these concepts down to something that effects them every day — something that is “in their face” so to speak.

His reasoning (which I believe is sound) for pursuing this matter is his belief that if we first grow to appreciate nature and creation and don’t take it for granted, the act of caring for it will follow. The opposite is also true — we tend to ignore that which we don’t care about. The challenge that this teacher is having is how to get his students to be appreciative; especially in a world where they have lived most of their lives disconnected from the land and nature itself. Read the rest of this entry »


Rapid Transit <-> Slow Living?

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1 — and ‘Turn Turn Turn’ by the Byrds’

One thing about rapid transit — it make you slow down.

Among the things I am learning about living without a car is that it takes a lot more planning and a lot more time to get from place to place. A no car life that uses public transportation to get from place to means that you… Read the rest of this entry »


Howyadoing?

One thing about commuting on a bike. There’s a lot of other people doing the same thing. I have been a regular bicycle commuter for about a month now and I am starting to recognize other people who are out at the same time I am. I have no idea who these people are, I only know them by some unique characteristic that they have.

Dobie Lady – young, she always wears a hat and big sunglasses. She is training a doberman to walk with her without a leash. She has a fannie pack that is filled with dog treats. She stops, the dog stops and sits and she give him a treat. Never any expression as we pass. All business. Gotta get the dog trained. Dog’s gonna get fat from all the treats. Read the rest of this entry »