Thursday, January 28, 2010


In the sixties, my basic values were formed. I lived in Baltimore and participated in the first desegregation bussing program. I was bussed to a school in a "colored" neighborhood. On my first day at the new school - I was made to hold the hand of a local girl and the two us us led a staged group walk to the playground for newspaper photo ops. I was in 2nd grade, a tow-headed kid who was embarrassed, not by the integration, but because I had to hold the hand of a girl.

At home, my Republican parents expressed ideals about respect and inclusion, despite their parent's backgrounds and disdain regarding "coloreds." This even included a framed notice of sale for "Two Good Slaves" from an ancestral auction in the 1800's that hung on the kitchen wall of my paternal grandparents. I recall the word "nigger" being used by my father's father and my mother's mother. I do not recall my parents ever using the word, nor disparaging anyone of another ethnicity. But I could see fear on my mother's face as I left to go to school "across town." She could feel fear and a sense of "wrongness", but acted on her ideals.

I have tremendous respect for my parents' ability to intellectually embrace the greater concept of "us", and choose to pursue a self-less view, despite their fears and pre-dispositions due to their parents' coaching and many friends' statements. At that time, "whites" lived in separate neighborhoods and there were mostly two parallel societies with one believing themselves to be "superior" to the other.

What I now recognize is that my parents set an example of acting on their ideals, despite the temptation to be self protective and to act selfishly to protect their own position and preserve their sense of "superiority" or otherwise exclusive and controlling status. They recognized we are together in our community, nation, and planet. This was when my values were being formed... ages 4-8.. a time when the fundamentals with which a person views their world are imprinted.

The sense of pursuing ideals as a virtue and the only truly worthy pursuit- go beyond the self and enter the realm of selfless action. In practice, I have found I revert to self when I look at my actions: taking care of me and my family first, then a small part for others. I still struggle with this and have not sacrificed self to the same degree that I satisfy self. But I have made choices: the type of business I am willing to support, the charities I donate to, and the political stance I express and actively support.

Around 1980, our political leadership began expousing the merit of "I, me", first. Much of the media touted the supposed ideal that accumulated riches was our right and we shifted to a "have it now" society. Borrow today, scramble over others to get what's yours and pay for it later. "Greed is Good" marked the front cover of Time magazine and our leadership openly encouraged it.

Here we are 30 years later. For me, the consequences look like shite. Our values are confused, our national identity is that the US is only a segment of the global market and our national ethic to serve on another, muted. To accomodate our selfishness, we have narrowed our view, our inclusion, to us/me versus them(others). We are doing this to one another.

Ideals and ethics are interwoven. Manifesting them comes in the form of acts. As a crude example for let's say, Christians, ask yourself, "What would Jesus do in this situation?" Then do whatever the answer is. For the agnostic narcissists, ask "How would this look on the front page of the newpaper?" Then act in a manner fits. For those who feel genuine love for another, ask yourself " Would I do this to my Grandmother?"

On the playing field of MTB racing, we compete in a safe and mostly inconsequential arena. In life, I invite you to follow the Golden Rule. If you have forgotten "The Golden Rule is an ethical code that states one has a right to just treatment, and a responsibility to ensure justice for others. It is also called the ethic of reciprocity. It is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights, though it has its critics.[2] A key element of the golden rule is that a person attempting to live by this rule treats all people, not just members of his or her in-group, with consideration."

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weights and Losing Some

The competitor in me is beginning to get restless and reared his ugly head last week, activated by the prospect of winning a weight loss contest - at work. Most people tell me I'm skinny, slim or otherwise unhealthily built. "Eat!" is what I'd hear from my Italian mother and Grandmother, if I was Italian.

At today's weigh-in, the number came in at a "healthy" 180 lbs of lean mean bikin' machine. If I stand in front of a mirror, I like to think it only shows in the love handle region, but I've managed to put on a nice uniform layer over my entire body of sweet sweet adipose tissue, a.k.a. blubber. I've noticed that my pants are a bit tight and that I look like a goober with high water cuffing since my hips, butt and physique makes all clothing sit a bit higher as its tries to wrap around an ever-growing girth. "Gee, these pant legs used to drape over my shoes but now I'm ready for to wade for trout."
I can hear your thoughts now: "No Al , tell us it isn't true. You can't possibly by 29 pounds heavier than you were at the starting line of the nats in '08!" Ok I'm not. Since we weighed in while dresssed in work attire, minus shoes, pocket stuff, and the congenital twin living in my abdomen, I am probably ONLY 177#, a mere 26 pounds heavier.
The contest involves two categories: % of body weight lost in 12 weeks AND % body weight lost in any one week. There are 31 competitors. I am in the "WTF is he doing here" category. Oddsmakers in Vegas are saying I stand a 1:31 chance of net overall and I say a 1:10 chance of a weekly loss title. Can you hear the NBA theme song pumping up the crowd? I can.
My goal is to weigh in on April 25 at 160. So let's see here, according to my calculation (Time x Avogadro's number x the circumference of the earth divided by pi x Schroedinger's equation net of atomic attrition and corrected by the dark matter gravitational distortion x coefficient of friction of the red pigment used on the heads of Nubian hunting tribes near the African Sahel known as Nuer), the result is something significant but probably not relevant to anything we've discussed so far. Let's just say everyone will be cheering as I approach the final weigh in. Everyone.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Snomobike Video and Cutting Ice

Last week I made my way out to Mast Yard for a relaxathon. Yes, and now you too can watch this or take two Ambien(TM) to get a good night's sleep. Sometimes the purr of corduroy snomobile tracks makes everything seem at peace.

I did a stint as NH farmer today- cutting ice on Kezar Lake in Sutton. It's now resting in a 19th century ice house, awaiting August's Farm Days celebration. Wet, cold, ice, a lake, Model T's on skis racing out and back, sun, and some delicious venison stew kept the genuine nature going.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Riding the Bridges at Ft Rock

Rode over at Fort Rock last weekend. Conditions for January... fantastic. The real coup was hitting the trails with some new buds that know the place. Here's the Hero Wide version:
Bridges in the Snow About 2/3 of the way through, Shadrack drops a nice lip and at the end, I'm forced to do a brief trackstand at the mid point on the swamp crossing bridge - that'll bring things into focus real fast, no matter if the consequences are water or ice. I've always thought that bridge would make a sweet race feature but alas, the Ft Rock Revenge is no longer. A race at Willowdale has replaced it. No doubt it''ll rock.

Pete made this one from the same ride with a VHoldr.
Pete's Awesome VHoldr Ft Rock smoothie
I'm in blue since you're all wondering, well maybe not... I like his resolution more... and come to think of it, maybe I'm encoding the movie wrong...maybe I need a lesson...or maybe I should just Shut Up and Ride. Tomorrow: snomobile trails in the Mink Hills. Varoom...