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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Took the "not really a bike path but how hyou go by bike" from Orchard Downs, which we took Saturday for our group ride to avoid the winds. Got pictures which will be posted soon as I stick 'em up (did the pages already).

(And MErry Christmas ALL :):))

Turns out the nasty pavement under the railroad bridge has been re-paved. It's still a low bridge and a sharp turn; the other nastiness on that path (like having to cut next to the RailRoad with completely nasty gravel and go down ummaintained roads) is still there, but hey, it's something!

Monday, December 25, 2006

"how to write good" -
Don't, ever, use excess, commas.

Merry, Christmas :) If I get to it I"ll post another bike pic, tho' that was taken before the roses were added.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Work on my "teaching spelling to grown-ups" project meant googling for words in quotable text (why use stupid simple sentences? Quote the masters...)

Led me to one of my mother's favorite poems (me too). Don't skim, imagine.

When will they ever learn?


Amy Lowell

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon --
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

From Men, Women and Ghosts By Amy Lowell

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh, and Alfred did get the delivery. Delivery was staged so there's time for reciprocation in kind.

Time to get productive :)

This site is 84% good... 16% evil, according to

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Having been tagged, 5 little k nown things (attempting a variety of subject areas):

1. My elbows do not lock. I can't do a cartwheel and I was told to get off the uneven parallel bars (gladly!) until I could, when I didn't know I couldn't.

2. I inherited callouses from my father's X chromosome - an undocumented genetic condition.

3. According to Myers-Briggs, I'm extremely introverted.

4. I went skinny dipping in Deep Creek Lake in December.

5. I can't bring myself to perpetuate chain letter things (too introverted~).

It's raining so I didn't put the little lit bear on the bike for the lunchtime errands. Going to post those miles...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Heard the usual "walk (somethign???)" at the crosswalk. Tonight it sounded like "Walk light is on." SOmetimes it sounds like "Walk by your dog." I dunno. I figure maybe if you're next to you you can hear it.
I thnk I answered the profound, mind-boggling (not mind blogging!) question: why does the little box CLANNNNNNG like an Big Ben wind-up alarm clock if the light got to red before I got across? No motorist could here it, should they even be chastened. Was it to chasten me?
Then it occurred to me that it was for blind pedestrians, who might care that something was still coming through. Now, if I could put one on my office door...
23 miles to 8000! I surprised myself waking up in time to do an early loop, especially since I had all the signs of an oncoming cold. They were *gone* in teh morning, though. Morning motivation is something I don't have a lot of control over; the body dictates (as it always has). Final exams were never enough... bicycling is!
SO, off at 6:51... later than yesterday, so rats, not enough time for 13 ... oh, unless we decide not to take a shower between, which is eaiser if we go slower, which we feel like doing anyway, which we justify with the idea that we're doing a training ride tonight.
Had to go back & get work stuff, and then ride off. On time :)
12:30 rode to post office. Went back inside for pump to placate Saint Murphy and his laws. TOok off for the 15-mile loop. Pushed a bit. Came back. DId some stuff (YAY!!!). 5:30 took off again, did gratuitous lap around campus, then down to LBS for inside ride. OH, my, that "lactate threshold" was lowered... and sweat came in buckets. One day I shall, I swear, remember water bottle and change of clothes and all the heart monitor parts.
Straight back to 608. Howard did 60 to my 47 (48?). I"m tired enough to want to go the short route home. THink Howard went to bed early, too :)

I figure I'll get my workout at the inside ride where I hope I'll have the pieces parts to deliver a Christmas Card and little present to Alfred.
Saw the brilliant yellow car with the 'UPSTGD" vanity plate again. People aren't as excited about my tree - either they've seen it before or they're not stressed out students :)
Just might hit 8000 on the morrow, but that's a long shot.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

This Christmas Spirit thing is kinda fun.

I went out Friday for a lunch ride and went by a "nest" of aluminum cans... and since I occasionally visit the Goat, which spits oiut 30cents a pound for them, I just couldn't help myself. (I also tell myself it's a good stretch if I've been sprinting.)
I try to only do it whne there are no cars 'cause my telepathic powers tell me it makes people think I'm pretty strange.
SOmehow, though, when you're on a b;ike that's all Christmassed out... the driver just smiles warmly, because you're *allowed* to do pointless little acts of making things a little better where you are if you're in the Christmas spirit.
And I could really get used to the spontaneous laughter and wordless exclamations the thing inspires. I feel like I'm Santa Claus himself. Herself. Something like that. Like my folks explained when I asked them why we weren't traumatized to "find out there's no Santa Claus..." - they had always told us Santa Claus was "the spirit of CHristmas," and when we thought concretely, it meant a dude. When we no longer thought like a child, it was a natural transition and didn't lose a single bit of the magic.

"Won" the time trial today - went a few seconds faster than the only other woman. Twenty seconds slower than last year... not gonna settle for that ;) Gonna lose five pounds and get in shape before 1/21 when the next one is. Cool thing is that it benefits the Bike Coop.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh, and because this deserves to be savored every year...:

E. B. White’s Christmas
From this high midtown hall, undecked with boughs, unfortified with mistletoe, we send forth our tinselled greetings as of old, to friends, to readers, to strangers of many conditions in many places.

Merry Christmas to uncertified accountants, to tellers who have made a mistake in addition, to girls who have made a mistake in judgment, to grounded airline passengers, and to all those who can’t eat clams!

We greet with particular warmth people who wake and smell smoke. To captains of river boats on snowy mornings we send an answering toot at this holiday time.

Merry Christmas to intellectuals and other despised minorities! Merry Christmas to the musicians of Muzak and men whose shoes don’t fit! Greetings of the season to unemployed actors and the blacklisted everywhere who suffer for sins uncommitted; a holly thorn in the thumb of compilers of lists!

Greetings to wives who can’t find their glasses and to poets who can’t find their rhymes! Merry Christmas to the unloved, the misunderstood, the overweight. Joy to the authors of books whose titles begin with the word “How” (as though they knew!).

Greetings to people with a ringing in their ears; greetings to growers of gourds, to shearers of sheep, and to makers of change in the lonely underground booths! Merry Christmas to old men asleep in libraries! Merry Christmas to people who can’t stay in the same room with a cat!

We greet, too, the boarders in boarding houses on 25 December, the duennas in Central Park in fair weather and foul, and young lovers who got nothing in the mail. Merry Christmas to people who plant trees in city streets; merry Christmas to people who save prairie chickens from extinction!

Greetings of a purely mechanical sort to machines that think—plus a sprig of artificial holly. Joyous Yule to Cadillac owners whose conduct is unworthy of their car! Merry Christmas to the defeated, the forgotten, the inept; joy to all dandiprats and bunglers! We send, most particularly and most hopefully, our greetings and our prayers to soldiers and guardsmen on land and sea and in the air—the young men doing the hardest things at the hardest time of life. To all such, Merry Christmas, blessings, and good luck!

We greet the Secretaries-designate, the President-elect; Merry Christmas to our new leaders, peace on earth, good will, and good management! Merry Christmas to couples unhappy in doorways! Merry Christmas to all who think they are in love but aren’t sure!

Greetings to people waiting for trains that will take them in the wrong direction, to people doing up a bundle and the string is too short, to children with sleds and no snow! We greet ministers who can’t think of a moral, gagmen who can’t think of a joke.

Greetings, too, to the inhabitants of other planets; see you soon!

And last, we greet all skaters on small natural ponds at the edge of woods toward the end of afternoon. Merry Christmas, skaters! Ring, steel! Grow red, sky! Die down, wind! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good morrow!
E.B. White, 12/20/52

Got the Xtra back from Champaign Cycle yesterday. I love the rediscovery feeling whenever I get on it again. Okay, I love the way it somehow has a more assertive niche in the traffic flow (could be the blinking Christmas tree, perhaps?) and hauls everything but still rides smoothly and quickly. Did 5 laps around Parkland for no reason (tho' it did keep me 7 miles further ahead of HOward, who managed 53 miles today [waving back there at Howard, flap! flap!] ... could we hit 8000 on the Solstice??? here's a little link to a site expressly for posting bicycle routes. Haven't explored it much.
Champaigncountybikes meeting tonight and I don't have to leave at 8:00 :) :) Thinking this morning about how to promote Ride to Work week. Gotta believe that with the teensiest bit of promotion people would be Out There... uniting to decrease our dependency - left and right wingers alike... teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony with whatever megacorporate product we choose...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How to give up cycling

A "reversal of priorities" essay explaining how it may be a challenge to give up cycling for an automobile, but for the sake of the planet, it can be done. It's full of clues that the author has been on a bicycle in traffic, possibly quite a bit.

Aren't I interesting?

(Had to write that because someone's posted on the bikejournal forum that "aren't I interesting?" posts belong on blogs, not on their forums... and I suspect that I'm one of a few people being referred to... I was going to quote the post but... ummm... it's gone. I suppose, it's most likely that the poster deleted it himself as opposed to some anti-censoring censorship. The dynamics of online communities are fascinating. But... at any rate, BJ visitors feel free to comment here -- yes, I personally think you ARE interesting, even if you say so yourselves {SNORK}! There is room on this earth for Mutual Admiration Societies that wax positively instead of the "let's band together and fling wrath as our binding" that one finds on places like reading education forums...)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dropped the Xtra at bike shop for that DISC BRAKE JOB!!! and photo opportunity :)

(Still thinking of doing something less tacky, perhaps over the weekend...)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ah, this option has returned!!! Not my picture but ah (I hope), the wonders of editing software :)

12 degrees this morning... okay, chilly enough so that I have too many layers to slather on (and they're still slightly damp from the morning's exertions) to make it worth slipping out at lunchtime for a bike shoppe ride.

People especially nice this morning - on campus, I'm "overgearing" just like in the TrainRight video, going uphill onto campus, into a 20 mph wind, and the gears haven't shifted for the whole trip (assume they froze) so I'm in the middle gear and pedaling slowly but steadily. Good workout... and Saint Murphy is with me as there's nobody keeping me from easing over to theleft lane, tho' there's somebody coming my way (which always makes me nervous 'cause they have the stop sign even tho' they're going straight and I'm turning left BUT...) ... ah, no problema, going 'round the loop, too - and stopping to wait for me *anyway* ...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Today was balmy and in the 30's. LEft before sunrise to get to Office Depot at 7:00 (succeeded!), so I didn't see as many bikes but there have been 5 or 6 every day.
Human moment: Heading out to POst Office, I decided not to do the double-left for three blocks of Mattis and to duck over to the skinny little sidewalk... and dang, there's a person on it. I hop off the bike (over the bridge it's just too narrow) and we have that interaction you have when you've been thoughtful and a person notices it - and you actually look at each other. Yea, it happens in cars, but not that often.
I'd have had to hop off anyway; stretch of snow and ice at the bottom of the bridge. THen I'm coming back and riding (not at the bridge yet); call out to the first human going my direction, and ease on by... and here's somebody up ahead, dang it... oh, she's stepping all the way off the sidewalk... oh, it's that same lady :)
Hey, I'm not saying I got choked up and wanted to hug anybody or anything, okay?
Still over 100 ahead of HOward (but a person can ride 100 miles in a day, and the month is still young). High 17 tomorrw... low 7 tomorrow night. Probably not long mileage days :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006


News Gazette report on 1000 fine for killing cyclist while downloading ringtones

and for the record, I think the new blogger is a bunbite. Can't preview any more. Far as I can tell, nothing better, just things taken away; I"m sure they had their reasons, but if you're thinking of "going beta" I'd vote against it.

Our State's Attorney's address:
Julia Rietz
States Attorney
101 E Main
Urbana, IL 61801

Just in case anybody else wants to let her know that some people *do* think that killing a cyclist should not be a petty offense, and that drivers SHOULD reasonably expect to see us out there.

Shot of last night's Parade of LIghts through downtown CHampaign.

This morning, I rode the decorated bike to church. On the last block, I passed a family coming out of the hospital, looking... like people do when they're coming out of a hospital. A cloud of sorts hov'ring over them. Then one of the kids saw my silly bike and smiled and said, "Look!" and the "isn't that cute?" was either really good acting, or it wasn't the "isn't that cute?" that you say when your mind is completely occupied and that's all you can think of to say. Seemed the burden was lifted just a little.
Went out and rode a few miles 'cause the roads are pretty clear, even if it only got to 19. (Fahrenheit, folks.) Realized that a: I do need to send another letter to Julia Rietz, and a civil one... perhaps just short and sweet: "You say driver's shouldn't reasonably be expected to find me on the road. I just have to know why not?" Okay, maybe I'll go on "I'm afraid that your statements are exactly what give lawyers a bad name. It's simply, fundamentally immoral to place such a low value on the lives of so many people in your county."
Also realized that I want to change my decorations. Right now they are cute and a tad tacky... which frankly, is not my idea of Christmas. Hmmm.... need to do somethign with a star...

... still ahead of HOward by 150 miles, assuming he does the 25 he says he will, which would mean I gained 5 miles on him today but lost 11 on the two previous days. It's 20 degrees there; 17 here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Boub Strikes Again

Our town's ringload-downloading driver got sentenced yesterday. Judge stated his regrets that he could only follow the limits of the law, and that he wished he could sentence her for more serious charges.

Disregarding anything individual or personal about the driver, the precedent here is so outrageous - if we can get people to see it - that it may, in fact, be a catalyst for change. I hope so. (However, it is of course a situation where the people in power just don't see aproblem because it isn't one for them. They don't ride; they won't die; it's a shame, but not worth getting mad about.)

Specific to cycling dismay, lots of folks noticed that one of the justifications for this not being "wanton and wilful" disregard was that idea that a driver shouldn't have to expect a cyclist to be on the road or shoulder. Lots of the other folks of champaigncountybikes were rightfully outraged at this, especially since it makes no sense in our fair town; cyclists and joggers are ALL OVER THE PLACE. Some were outraged personally at teh DA for saying it, but I suspect that it's worse than that. The State's Attorney may "simply" have been referring to the Boub case and considering that as a legal precedent.
I do, though, find it reprehensible and morally appalling that she, also, has that (imo wilful and wanton) disregard for human life that she says didn't happen here. Dear cyclists and pedestrians: Despite the fact that you have every legal right to be there, and despite the fact that people like you are there frequently, hey, those of us in our automobiles certainly can't expect to be responsible for something as difficult as staying anywhere near in the road and if you are dead meat, well, we're sorry, but it's not as if we're hurtful people. We just couldn't be bothered to wait until we got to our destination before downloading the ringtones. It's a question of priorities, you see: driver's ringtones, your life. Gosh, I just don't see why you are angry!
I have this dream that a better lawyer in an honest situation will find a way to show that while, perhaps, in that Boub case, cyclists weren't an established presence, that in fact - even without signage - cyclists *should* be expected here. There's an awful lot of evidence that C-U is full of cyclists and pedestrians on the roads and perhaps one of our goals should be to gather it.
Drivers should be held responsibe for the carnage they inflict when they decide to distract themselves **and** kill somebody in the process. Even if cell phones don't get banned, on the (very arguable) grounds that maybe *some* people can pay attention and call, if you *prove* that you can't because you killed somebody doing it, you should be held responsible for that. You can't undo your damage, but at least it should be acknowledged taht you did the damage; not that gosh, asking you to stay on the road is simply not something we should expect.

What does "expect" mean?

From :

NO surprise to those of us who've thought about it and observed and taken that occasional psych course, but indeed: our brains filter out information which has been deemed not to be important before it ever gets to the brain.

This is why, dear folks, people on the **side** of the road don't get noticed. "I just didn't see you!"

It may be why sometimes a bicycle or motorcycle doesn't get perceived at all - though for most of us, fortunately, if you're *in* the roadway you're "important."

Again, "taking the lane" makes sense not because it's a psychologically assertive way of Claiming Your Right To THe Road, but because it's where you'll actually register on the brains of the drivers before you're a thumping sound.

I would also suspect that, in those studies, had the participants been asked to look for gorillas instead of counting things, they'd have seen things differently. Likewise, when we are trained (by instruction or experience) to look for things like cyclists, our "inattention" will be more selective. We still won't see the weird gyrations happening in that dormitory window, but we'll know that lady with the Christmas Tree on her bicycle was in the right lane. (Going to decorate it tonight.)

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