Category Archives: Uncategorized

Very Little

I pedaled to the garden and pulled last years kale and broccoli from the ground.  The bleached stalks, like bones pushing out of dry soil in a yard of shallow graves, were each wrenched back onto my side of the soil divide.  I also turned two rows with a shovel and in one planted seeds that may become broccoli, kale and collards.  I didn’t start seeds in the basement this year, something I had done each spring for about 15 years.  Instead I’ll start seeds directly in the soil and buy seedlings.  Taking it easy.

Frida is doing amazingly well.  She recently passed the one year mark since her corneal ulcers healed.  What a year.  More importantly, she is also eating, sleeping, walking and barking at passersby.  Lacey and I delight each morning as we hear Frida’s nails clicking on the floor, almost always just after we pour milk on our granola.  Our granola is stout.  A ten minute soak as we take Frida out (carry her down the stairs), make her breakfast, bring her in (carry her up the stairs) and give her drops doesn’t register for oats dried in a 250 degree oven for 1.5 hours.

My parents dog, Annie, has been missing for more than a week.  Cairn terriers are hunters, engineered to chase prey down holes.  Probably lots of chasing for a terrier to do in the desert around Sedona.  I hope she makes it home soon.

There is some nice steel shelving on Eileen just off of Western.  Two pieces.  One tall and one short.  I was going to bring them home, but then I’d have more things.  I am working hard to not have more things.  You should go get them.  They look nice.  I did bring home a hand operated drill from the box of free tools.   There are bits of various sizes in the wooden handle which are secured by a screw-on wooden cap.  Now I have one more thing.  A small thing.

I voted in the primary but didn’t understand what my vote would mean until after the vote.  It’s a wee bit complicated.  In Albany County, the Democratic ballot allowed me to cast votes for one of two candidates and then also for seven of fourteen delegates.  Each candidate had seven delegates lines up to the right of their name and the instruction over the delegates said “vote for seven.”  I voted for one candidate and then assumed that the delegates to the right of that candidate’s name were pledged to vote for that candidate, so I voted for those seven.  Andrew of Keep Albany Boring confirmed that my assumption was correct–that the candidates to the right were pledge to that candidate.  Smart guy.  As I left the polling place, I wondered if that was the case.

Still, I had questions.  Someone had told me that voting for delegates was how we picked the candidate.  Then why was I also voting for the candidate?  A poll worker said the opposite–that only the vote for the candidate mattered and couldn’t explain why we were voting for delegates.  The answer is simple, but the best way to vote is not.  Votes for the candidate determine how many delegates that candidate will be awarded, and votes for the delegates determine which delegates will attend the convention.  Simple, but…

It is the rare case that one candidate will get all the votes.  More likely the candidates will split the number of available delegates, for example, three to Bernie and four to Hillary (odd that I am/we are referring to candidates by their first names), such that voting for all seven delegates to the right of a candidate’s name will likely be a waste of some of your votes.  If everyone voted for all seven delegates to the right of their candidate’s name, the vote would be a tie.  There are surely backstop rules to address this, but voters can/should instead vote for a couple of their candidate’s delegates and a couple of the other candidate’s delegates, thereby supercharging their vote for their candidate’s delegates of choice and also influencing the delegate selection in the other candidate’s camp.  Maybe you know the delegate or they’re local, so getting them to the convention will be a plus to your area or circle of friends.  There’s a bit more to it, and you can read all about it here.  Thanks to  of the Albany Times Union for pointing me to the article! 

I’d venture that less than one percent of voters understand all of this, such that our primary was like playing a big game of monopoly where only one person knows the rules.  You do what you do and they tell you, or not, whether you’ve done it right.  You just have to trust them.  That’s not right.  You wouldn’t do it when playing a game and you really shouldn’t when voting.

My window is open and I thought I heard my neighbor say that Prince just died.  Twitter confirms it.  My biggest Prince memory?  I took Tara Cooper to Purple Rain when it was in the theater.  The film came out in ’84 so I would have been 17.  Not sure how I gathered the nerve to ask her, but I certainly lacked the nerve to make it a good date.  I doubt I said more than a few words.  I took her home immediately after the film–it was the only way to end my monumental anxiety.  No second date.  My sincerest apology to Tara Cooper for being such a drip.  My sincerest thanks to Prince for making the date seem sexy despite me.

Take care.

More Legislation

Safe passing laws are intended to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable by requiring motorists to leave a safety buffer between their vehicle and the cyclists they pass.  Whoosh goes the motor vehicle!  Just like in the commercials!  So powerful, I pray to thee.

The text of NY’s current safe passing law requires motor vehicle operators to leave a “safe distance” when passing bicyclists.  Consult the legislative history and learn that a “safe distance” is at least 3 feet.  That two step boogie, law and legislative history, is apparently one step too many.  The NY State legislature is now considering an amendment to the existing law to specify right in the text of the law that motorists are to leave at least 3 feet.  A one step dance that anyone can do.

But will they?  I could point out that (a) too many motorists are and will continue to be blissfully unaware of the current safe passing law and any amendment and (b) next to zero, but probably zero, police officers have or will enforce the law, clarification or no, but I won’t.  Securing changes in the law may comfort some, so let’s get on it.

I received the following email from the New York Bicycle Coalition (“NYBC”).

Thank you for emailing your legislators and asking them to support a 3 foot amendment to the safe passing law – we greatly appreciate your help!

Because of you, Senate Transportation Committee members passed S06649 (AKA the 3 foot amendment) by a vote of 16 to 1! It’s a great victory to get things started, but there is still a journey ahead.

Over next few weeks, there are going to be more votes in the Senate and Assembly that are critical to winning passage of the 3 foot amendment. Now is the time more than ever that we need to make our voices heard, especially among Assembly members.

Please take a quick moment to review this short and easy-to-read documentthen look up your assembly member’s contact information and schedule a quick meeting!

There are many ways to communicate with legislators, but nothing is more effective than meeting with them in person and sharing your message. As their constituent, your needs are among their top priorities.

We won’t be able to win passage of the 3 foot amendment without your help, so please act now.

Click on the link above.  I did and learned that my Assemblyperson, Patricia Fahey, is already on board with the amendment.  Thank Lorenz.  Huge relief!  I care deeply about safe bicycling but I am about as likely to schedule a quick meeting with my Assemblyperson as I am to go out and buy the clothes one might wear to a quick meeting with an Assemblyperson.  My long pants that fit at the moment are bright red, canary yellow, burnt orange and blue denim with worn knees from kneeling to put drops in Frida’s eyes.  No khakis.  No olive khakis.  No grey wool.  I guess I could wear dark blue cords, but my pits are batchy and my voice is cracking just thinking of A Quick Meeting!

My dear readers, though, are surely in a better place than I.  You may still make a habit of being “in the world.”  You may have laundered dress shirts protected by plastic  in your closet.  And your Assemblyperson may not yet be on the thumbs up list.  Three yesses?  If so, we need you!  You can do it.  The NYBC encourages you to meet with your Assemblyperson, but sending an email is better than nothing.  Get clicking!

Thank you.

The Letting Go

I’ve been working on letting go of the fear I feel when busses pass too closely.  That, and I sometimes choose a route to avoid busses.  Together, my efforts have helped a great deal.  I am much calmer and am enjoying rides more.

That doesn’t mean my work is done.  Today I pedaled on Western and was subjected to a close pass by a CDTA bus.  I pulled onto the sidewalk and calmly called it in (after coaxing a stray chihuahua nearer to me so that it wouldn’t bolt into Western Avenue–while I was preparing to pick him up the owner came out and scooped up “Taco”–phew).

I also emailed my contact at the CDTA.  He hadn’t replied to my email sent March 24, 2016 (the one with the hand drawn illustration showing that busses can’t share even the widest lanes side by side with cyclists) and it was good to remind him that the close passes are still happening.

Last time we spoke, he had hung his hat on the fact that the tape showed my outstretched arm not making contact with the bus.  I let him know that my wing span in only 21″, when measured from my torso to the end of my fingers.  So if I actually touch a bus, they’d be less than two feet away from me.  And that ignores that the measurement needs to be made not from the body of the bus but from the furthest protruding object on the bus–the outside of the right mirror.  So there needs to be a distance between my fingertips and the outside of the mirror of at least 15″ and assuming a mirror protrudes 9″ there should be two feet from my fingertips to the body of the bus.  Minimum.  Remember the CDTA driver manual requires a 3 foot safety zone but recommends a 5 foot safety zone.  So that’s four feet from my fingers to the bus.  That is a luxurious amount of room (and a luxury to which we are entitled).

I sent a picture to help the CDTA visualize all the relevant distances.  Might help you as well (if you bike and/or drive).Visualize 3 Feet

The end of the flag is three feet from my shoulder.  The brick wall would not be the body of the bus (or your car) but the outside of the right hand mirror.  Add another two feet (to get to the five feet recommended by the CDTA manual) and you have a very comfortable buffer zone.  A safety zone you’ve probably enjoyed less often than you’ve had your rights violated.

While I am doing my best to let go of the fear, I am not going to let the CDTA off the hook.  They have an obligation to operate in a safe manner and in compliance with all laws.  Until they do, I will be on them.  It would be great if you could lend your support.  If you are passed too closely, note the time, bus number, route and direction of travel.  Pull off the road and call the CDTA at 518-482-8822 and make a report of the close pass.  Put the number in your phone now.  Remind the CDTA rep that their manual requires a minimum safety zone of 3 feet and recommends 5 feet, measured from the outside of the bus mirror to your right shoulder, and that drivers are required to slow when passing cyclists (slowing is not the law, but it is in the CDTA driver’s manual so it is as good as law for bus drivers).

Close passes by busses happen to me nearly every time I ride on Western.  It must happen, then, dozens of times a day with all the cyclists that use Western on their commutes.  If every cyclist called, the CDTA would sort this out much more quickly.  I’ve been working on them for more than two years.  With your help we can get this addressed before someone loses their life.

New Yorker?  Remember to vote tomorrow!  12-9 in Albany.  I think this one may be a squeaker!

Thank you.

I took a walk

There happened to be a counselor with me.  This counselor knows not to counsel family unless invited.   We are married, so she only counsels if i ask for help.  Today, I asked for help and I got it.  It is so great to be married to a skilled and compassionate counselor!

We didn’t waste time on my backstory since she knows all that.  I filled her on the precipitating event–yesterday’s attempted right hook.  I’ll share it with you, too, in case the shorthand is new to you.

It wasn’t anything special.  It happens almost as often as I pedal on the right while traveling through an intersection.  Move left into the middle of the lane while traveling through an intersection and a right turning vehicle has to wait behind you.  Stay right, though, and cars often pass just before the intersection and then turn right just in front of you.  If you’re lucky, you brake.  This time I stayed right, a car turned right in front of me and I hit the brakes to avoid getting hit.  No time to be scared, but after the fact I hollered “HEY!” then “WHAT THE HELL!”  Didn’t want to yell, but my lizard brain takes over in times of stress.

I know to take the lane.  I know to give it back.  But the decision has to be made dozens of times each ride and I don’t always get it right.  I don’t want to get in the way any more often than need be, so I stay right too much.  It is only after a close call that I know that just then I should have moved left.  Asserted my rights.  Advocated for my personal safety.  So that’s one thing.  Something I’ve long known but recently neglected.  This isn’t what Lacey helped me see.

Lacey helped me see that I was stuck in a pattern and that only I could change the pattern.  Of course I tried to protect the status quo.  Protect my ego.  I have come a long way toward forgiving amateur motorists for their ignorance and willful breaking of the law, for their putting my life at risk, but I haven’t been able to forgive professional drivers.  This is one area where I am stuck.  Harder to forgive bus drivers.  Busses are big and loud and have stout mirrors projecting on the right.  Scary when they pass a lane away and really scary when they pass close.  The heat and the noise, the disparate speed (when they are exceeding the posted limit of 30 and I am going 15), and the visions I get of all the cyclists who have lost their lives under bus tires.  Too much!  And bus drivers are professionals.  They are supposed to know better and do better than civilian drivers.  If they don’t, they should be retrained.  If the retraining doesn’t take, if they don’t start following the law, they should be let go.

I don’t get the sense this happens at the CDTA and I’ve spent too much time trying to get the CDTA to change.  It is time to drop my effort to get the CDTA to do a better job educating their drivers.  That won’t come easy.  Contacting the CDTA was the only way I could maintain hope that things will get better.  If the pros are hopeless, all are hopeless.  Without hope, I am left with fear.  My best friend, like the song says, but sometimes we need a break from even our bestest friends.

If hope and fear are out, what remains?  Since I can’t get motorists to soften up, to be kinder and safer, it is time for me to toughen up.  I have to steel myself against vehicular insults.  I will work to have no reaction whatsoever.  Control the lizard brain.  No shouts arising out of fear.  Resist contacting the CDTA when their drivers snuggle.  Just pedal.  Hard work, sure, but I need to do it.

Lacey and I talked about how I carry with me all of these close calls.  I said I don’t get mad and I don’t, but I don’t forget them.  Each time I throw a leg over, I think of the event that happened the day before.  It is a lot to carry around!  I wonder if pedalers can develop a kind of accumulated PTSD–lots of close calls on a daily basis.  Can’t be good.

I confided in Lacey that I’ve recently considered stopping biking.  I’ve biked on public roads for nearly forty years, but I don’t remember getting scared by cars until I was older.  More or less in the year 2002.  That year I had restarted biking for transportation on a regular basis.  The protective cloak of immortality that only the young enjoy was gone.  When people threatened me with their cars, I felt it.  For years I hollered at them.  I’d chase them down and holler at them like a madman.  Glad to have stopped that, but now the CDTA busses are stuck in my craw.  So I am still collecting bad events in my memory sack.  It is all too much to carry.

Time to let it all go.  Biking is my life.  My identity.  What am I if not a pedaler?  It is the only  regular exercise I get.  I need it.  I can’t let them take pedaling.  Time to get tough and pedal slow.  Wish me luck.IMG_2964

Frida is an inspiration.  Walking more than a mile every day.  She is enjoying a much needed break from physical problems.  How did we get so lucky?

I am cooking so much but trying to eat less.  This works by making 1/2 and 1/4 recipes (unless the result can be frozen).

Then there is my nut cheese obsession.  I need to let this go, too.  I don’t really care about cheese, but it bugs me that the one thing omnis use as an excuse to continue with the killing–cheese–is getting so much better in the vegan world yet shelves in local stores continue to carry only the old weird stuff.  Time to make room for the newer yummier stuff.  So I write to ask them to consider carrying the newer yummier stuff.  I get no reply.  Here’s the lesson.  If a retailer doesn’t want to sell the hottest new thing, they won’t.  Never mind what one vocal (and dozens of silent) customers want.   Never mind that they could attract new customers who regularly pay premiums for things made without death in the ingredient list.  Ragonese Italian Imports has started selling vegan stuff without my asking.  Maybe that’s it–I should cool it with the lobbying so they can forget my suggestions and feel like they arrived at the decision on their own.  Patience.  I have so much for some things and so little for others.  Deep breath.  I look forward to local stores making the discovery.

Take care.

A Picture

I am in a conversation with a CDTA rep on the topic of safe passing.  Phone and email.  At my request, he shared a portion of the the manual they give to drivers.  In it, drivers are instructed to leave 3 feet minimum and 5 feet recommended when passing cyclists and to slow.  5 feet would be luxurious.  I get that when operators fully leave the lane to pass.  Some do.  More often, though, I would guess I get something much less than 5 feet and sometimes less than 3 feet.  I thought a diagram would help so I put one together and shared it with the CDTA.Safe Passing Diagram 03.24.16

I measured the distance I am comfortable riding from the curb.  It’s 2.5 feet, but I put 2 feet in the diagram to be conservative.  I measured my on-bike height and width.  I measured the width of the lane by my house when cars were stopped.  From there I made some guesses.  I used the most conservative (smallest) bus measurements from this obviously old reference.  Can’t be far off.  Busses don’t seem to be getting smaller.  I determined mirror height by using dividers on a screen shot of a CDTA bus.

I hope he will better understand that bus drivers can never share a single lane side by side with a bicyclist.  Since they have to leave the lane to pass, they might as well give a lot of space.  They should also slow.  The manual directs it and decreasing speed differential is a big help in reducing road fatalities.  I also hope he gets the information to all drivers.  Some already know it.  Too many do not.

It’s beautiful outside.  I am going to go pedal.

Together

Yesterday Frida enjoyed her fifth weekly reiki session with Amy Adams.  Her sixth will be a month from now.  In seventy days Frida will be fifteen!  Wow!  She is doing so well!  Frida 03.22.16

After her slip down the stairs, a week of rest seems to have sorted her limp.  On Saturday and Sunday she walked half a mile.  Yesterday a mile.  Good gait at slow speeds.

I want to get Frida out there again but before we go, have a look at the wonderful work this local couple is undertaking.  Need a teaser?  Senior dog rescue!  Speaks to me!  To help raise awareness (and donations–awareness doesn’t pay the vet bills), this Saturday you are asked to post a pic of your dog wearing a bowtie.  Links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts are at the link above.  We just happen to have a bowtie for Frida!

It is Frida time.  Speak to you soon.

Sprouts

Years ago a friend helped Torch Apparel Kickstart the manufacture of a very cool bicycle helmet.  Sadly, when his L/XL arrived, it was too snug.  Happy to know someone with a bigger head than mine.  The helmet fit me, so I bought it.

IMG_2827

Having front and rear LED arrays built into a helmet is a step dozen steps up from my helmet of humility, but it still sat in my closet mostly unused for a year or so.   I couldn’t bring myself to uglify the Torch with a mirror (you know I love a mirror) and I almost never ride at night, so my Bell with mirror but without hiking lamp, has continued to be my go to.

A month ago I remembered the Torch.  It deserves to be used!  Plugged in the USB charger, but the lights didn’t indicate charging.  Huh.  Left it charge for an hour to see if was charging without telling me it was charging.  Nothing.  Wrote to Torch and explained that I am not the original owner and the helmet is out of warranty, but I wanted to try to bring it back.  I asked if I could open it up and replace the rechargeable batteries (no obvious way to open it).  Reply:

If you ship it me I’ll see what I can do.  No guarantee, but I may be able to replace the circuits to get a little life out of it.

I did, they did, and it is working like new.  No charge–I just paid shipping to them.  Extremely fast turn around.  Maybe a week?   They even paid return shipping.  I wouldn’t expect Torch to do the same for me again, or invite others to pester them with requests for free out of warranty repairs, but I wanted to share the story.   People who stand behind their products deserve to be recognized and rewarded.  When the rechargeable batteries in this first generation Torch helmet stop charging, I will happily saddle up for a new second generation model.  Thanks Torch!

Sad to report that on Saturday Frida fell down the stairs.  Not a crazy end over end fall.  Her tired legs gave up half way down and she slid to the bottom.  Her previously sore front right leg was now much more sore.   She didn’t want to walk at all and was at times lifting that leg when standing.  Gentle manipulation didn’t elicit pain response and there was no swelling, so we decided to give her a couple days rest and then take her in for x-rays if need be.  The rest was helping and she was much better by Tuesday, but I still took her in.  Outside the vet she walked without any hint of injury.  See?

Smart girl, but she wasn’t getting off that easily.  The vet concluded we should wait on the x-ray and continue the rest–give her a week total.  Frida is walking around the house and yard, but not going on walks.  She is putting weight on the injured leg and her gait, even away from the hospital, is much improved.  Unless something goes wrong, we’ll take her on a short walk this Saturday.  Fingers crossed.  We’re carrying her down the stairs now to be safe.  Probably for the rest of her life.  Forty-five pounder.  Quite a sack of potatoes, but worth the effort.  IMG_2826

I was also happy to learn Frida is now producing tears at a normal level.  Blue lines raced up the test strips in five seconds (a minute was required before).  We’ll keep alternating immunosuppressant drops and comfort drops every three hours, but it is great to know the medicine is working.Frida with Amy

Frida has had five reiki sessions.  I can’t say how she’d be doing without them–no control group–but I can tell she enjoys them.  Amy Adams is a really wonderful person.  If you ever want to give it a try, Amy can be found here.

How’d your St. Patrick’s day go?  I had just one Troeg’s Nugget Nectar in the company of my men’s Scrabble group.  A second beer would have been nice, but I was the carpool driver.  My night was quiet and very enjoyable.  I hope yours was too.  Enjoyable, that is.  Quiet, too, if that is your thing.