After several weeks of inactivity, I am back on the bike. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just missed my bus early enough that the nexr bus was 30 minutes after. I can ride to S Tacoma in 25 minutes, so I checked the tail light and tires and still had both air and power, so off I went. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start. 50% of reaching any goal is just showing up. 4.2 miles, 25 min, 11.1mph avg speed.
The big news this week, of course, is the fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.
The news outlets were predictably hyperbolic about the whole thing, saying the cathedral was “destroyed” and “a total loss”. Au contraire, mon frere. Started in 1160, it took about 100 years to build it, and several centuries of modification afterwards. What burned was the timber roof above the stone vaulted ceiling, which, while 800 years old, was also the only original timbered cathedral roof in France which had not already burned. The stone is unfazed, and nearly all the glass was 18th-century reproductions of the originals. Yes, it was historic, but it can be remade. The cathedral is one of the best-documented structures in the world, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of detailed pictures of the glass available for reconstructive reference. So, while it is a tragedy, it’s not quite what the media painted it to be.
400 firefighters combatted the blaze, which probably prevented things from getting to the temperatures that could have caused damage to the actual structure, and it looks like many of the interior artifacts and details were protected from the fire. Several European billionaires have already pledged hundreds of millions of Euros to reconstruct the damage. The story ran on every news outlet known to man, displacing other important stories yesterday, including another fire at the same time the 3rd holiest site in the Islamic religion – the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The reaction of many in the Muslim community, and of the Palestinian President, was to express sympathy and “deep regret” for the fire at Notre Dame, and the shared loss at both sites.
What comes out of this is the reminder that humans come together in the face of tragedy. Look at the outpouring of compassion, shared loss, feelings, memories, empathy and a desire and willingness to do something, anything to help. Notre Dame is an example of something that brought generations together to see completed over the course of a century, and this brought together Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists (among other faiths, or lack thereof). It’s a symbol and a purpose that transcends the religion that spawned it. A reminder that there is something common to all of us.
Personally, seeing Notre Dame was a bonding experience for my grandfather and I. I saw it in 1989 during the French bicentennial, at one of the heights of its glory. My grandfather saw it in the middle of WWII, after the monks had removed and hidden all the stained glass panels so “the Nazis couldn’t get them”. My grandfather and I had (understandably) very different perspectives on the cathedral and the city, and it spawned a long discussion of those differences and the feelings they engendered, and helped us understand each other better as well as providing a shared sense of continuity. Standing in the courtyard in front of Notre Dame, looking at an edifice 4x the age of my home country, was an awe-inspiring experience. One which was remembered later when I went to see the Klootchy Creek Giant (since blown over a decade ago in a big storm on the Oregon Coast), which was a sapling when they laid the cornerstone for the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris. Unlike Notre Dame, the great Sitka Spruce on the Oregon Coast cannot be rebuilt, and a decade later, there’s not a lot of evidence left of the grand tree which stood there.
I’m not sure exactly the point of this post, other than that things change, and disaster isn’t always as bad as it seems, and that people are resilient, and band together in the face of adversity. Which I suppose is a worthy enough reason to ramble on about it for a bit.
Well, here we are in the third month of 2019, and I’m finally getting around to updating my blog. So, what *do* I have planned for this year?
Well, first of all, I’m planning to ride StP (Seattle to Portland) for the 5th time. This year is the 40th StP. They started in 1979, and only took 1 year off – in 1980, due to the Mount St. Helens eruption. 206 miles biking with 8,000 of my closest friends… and complete strangers. Seriously, there’s a LOT of riders on this ride, and you sometimes see 10, 20, 30 person pace lines. It’s insane. The last 2 times I rode it, I said that would be the last time. So, why am I riding it again? Well, in short, I’m using it as a training goal (in theory), and also because it’s the 40th StP, so it’s a “big number” year. I might ride it once more in 10 more years for the 50th one. I mean, I’ll be 60 then – so actually I might just ride StP every decade from now on, because it’ll be more badass each time then. I think it’s going to be pretty awesome this year even though I am going to remember all the reasons I hate it. (I’m really selling this, aren’t I?)
Also, the best part is I have a built-in bail out point 54 miles in, in Spanaway. If I am done, I can just put my bike on the #1 Bus, and ride back to 3 blocks from my house in Tacoma. If I didn’t ride at all between now and then, I could manage 54 miles. But I’m not going to settle for the bail-out point, I want to ride the whole thing. 206 miles to Lloyd Center in Portland. At which time I will promptly hit Burgerville for a milkshake, hang out with my Portland peeps and drink microbrews, and then grab a couple of bagels at Bowery Bagels the next morning before heading home to Tacoma.
So, what other plans do I have this year? Well, I still have a 60k word half-finished novel, and ideas for at least 3 other stories, so I’m going to write something, and continue developing my fictional space universe towards publishing at least one of a potential series of novels. We’ll see. I have high hopes, but I also have a goal of completing a novel by end of year.
Also for this year – a camping bikeshed map for the Puget Sound region, and at least 5 camping trips this year, 2-3 of which will be by bicycle. I also have a goal for a late September / early October mini- bike tour (5-9 days, probably 5. I don’t think I can sell 9 days away to my wife)
That’s it for the moment. more updates sooner or later – hopefully sooner!
Ok, so I have another website. Another year, another website, and usually another place that I never update anything. So, I am going to try to get this one going and keep it going.
It’s been a rough year. Seriously. It’s not just Donald Trump in the White House – that’s bad enough on its own. There’s a lot of change right now. We added another member of the family in February. We bought a house. We moved to Tacoma. We left all the new friends we met in the last 2 years since we left all the old friends. My company relocated to a new office downtown. We launched a major project that just went live 6-ish weeks ago, and from which I am just emerging. And I am trying to find balance as a father, a husband, a friend, and a co-worker with my new 1.5-2 hour commute. Oh, and Facebook continues to suck, and our dominant societal paradigm continues to destroy humanity and the planet.
Oh, and let’s not forget the broken water heater, the broken furnace, and the broken sewer line in the new house, and all the associated repairs – plus we’re going to buy a car. Enough going on yet? I also wrote another 12k+ word short story which should be getting published soon.
So… what am I going to put on this website? Well, first off, I plan to start blogging a bit again, and this of course is the first installment of that. Secondly, my writing, and something spaceship-related (of course), and probably something related to bikes, camping, or both. Maybe something to do with food. I always have trouble making up my mind what *should* be on the site, and so this time I picked a domain name which will let me put just about ANYTHING on my website without seeming wildly off-theme.
Next post will probably be about my plans for the upcoming year. 2019 is going to be busy.