Stupid is as stupid does

“What are you? Stupid?”

My biking to work year round gains that response from family and outspoken people on occasion. It, of course, makes me react. Usually on the inside.
Perhaps they are just trying to be funny. As it probably was with the volunteer where I was giving blood the other day.
But I have the impression they speak for many. Certainly for those who honk at me in the road or don’t give me my fair share of the road.
But I think it’s more. They are giving voice to a deep resentment many people have about cyclists.
But why you may well ask?
Below I try to examine both sides of biking as I see them.

Reasons NOT to bike:

  • easier
  • less dangerous
  • the elements (especially in a Canadian winter) and stuff on the road are hard on chains, gears, tires and brakes so there is a requirement for spare tubes and bikes
  • it does require some gear (which doesn’t have to be too expensive if you don’t mind layering)
  • bugs, dogs, animal poop and parental geese

And now WHY I ride:

  • extremely enjoyable (almost addictive when you’ve done it enough)
  • relatively quick
  • if the trail hasn’t been plowed it’s much rarer that the roads aren’t and I can use them legally
  • physically healthy respite from my sedentary lifestyle
  • relatively carbon neutral
  • economical (gasoline for two weeks alone could buy me two used bikes in good shape and two months would get me a real nice one)
  • mentally healthy alternative for our sedentary minds (provides me with the time I use to think things through)

So there you have some cons and pros. I don’t know where you come down on any of those but it probably doesn’t matter. These points don’t give the real reason people think I’m stupid because deep down I’m pretty sure they don’t. Not really. They might, if they like or love me, be fearful for me but then they’d be the ones that are joking about my intelligence.
So why the stupid?
I think it’s because they wish they were doing the same. They feel guilty because they don’t and I do. Despite the too many excuses they’d have to fight off to bike themselves, they really want to. Even those angry that I’m in ‘their’ lane probably wish they were the ones biking. So they react angrily to what they perceive as my stubbornness to continue biking. Well they’re right about my stubbornness anyway, my wife can attest to the fact.
Maybe they lack the will power. I know I certainly do when I’m playing video games late and should be sleeping.
Maybe they’re stuck in a rut but that’s not right: it’s easier to get out of a rut in a car than it is on a bicycle.
Or maybe I am just a pretentious tree hugger who wants that big old world to stop so I can get off. But I do own a car (it was supposed to be in my wife’s name but the misogynistic car dealership put it in mine–whatever! I pay for it either way.)

So that’s it in a nutshell. I know I’ve posted on this topic before but I felt compelled to do it again. I just love biking and wish more people did it for most of my reasons above are bound to be really good for them too.

Maybe, in the end, my attempts at explaining myself are the real proof. Why am I trying? I must really be stupid.

Letters to Father Jacob

In the original Finnish it was called Postia pappi Jaakobille and was intended as a made for TV movie. But, luckily, this seventy-four minute masterpiece was released as a movie. The deft cinematography draws you in and the acting of the two principals (Kaarina Hazard as Leila and Heikki Nousiainen as Father Jacob) keeps you riveted to the screen.
The basic plot surrounds the newly pardoned criminal Leila coming to work with the blind Father Jacob as an assistant. But there are layers of meaning in every amazing shot and moment of dialogue. The story is succinct but full of subtlety. The clash of faith with modernity, in particular, was skillfully played with.
I had to watch the film for a second time immediately just to satisfy myself that I had grasped everything.
Klaus Härö is the young director and wrote the screenplay using an original work by Jaana Makkonen. It’s official: I’m now a fan.
Very highly recommended to an older audience with an open mind.

Wild and Woolly Find on Starkey Hill

I found a colony of a small, weird organism on a young beech tree as I was climbing up Starkey Hill. Each individual was tufted white with one particular long white hair and it, bizarrely, waved back and forth from a brownish/black base. I guessed it was some kind of insect but it didn’t look like anything familiar. In fact, the waving back and forth reminded me more of a marine organism.
A naturalist friend of mine confirmed that it was some kind of Woolly Apple Aphid.
You can check out other sites for them here or here

Here’re my pictures:

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Beware attacks from united state marina

I received this e-mail yesterday and I had to preserve it for you. I haven’t been putting time into golbing since I’ve been working on my novels with my spare time. But this? It’s just too funny to keep to myself. Not that I shouldn’t be terrified. I really am. Let’s face it. A real marina coming from any one of the states could do me in. Probably the docks alone would do the job. I take that seriously. The subject line was “Your Life Is At Stake”.

Hello
I am JUBRIL, I was sent by someone very close to you to terminate you, but the person can’t pay up to my price, I am once a marina in united stat of America.I am a Mass murderer. I am very sorry for you ,It is a pity that this is how your life is going to end as soon as you don’t comply. As you can see there is no need for me introducing myself to you because I don’t have any business with you, my duty as I am mailing you now is just to (KILL YOU ) and I have to do it as I have already been paid for that.

I travel with different names all around the world for the work. I have all the details of you given to me by the person very close to you. I hope you will not let this happen. I know that you have your own family and you are living happily and you are not ready to die yet. I can terminate this deal only if you can pay me the sum of $7,500, after this payment, I promise to guide you from any arm. I called my client back and ask him of your email address which I didn’t tell him what I wanted to do with it and he gave it to me and I am using it to contact you now. As I am writing to you now my men are monitoring you and they are telling me everything about you.

Someone you call a Friend want’s you Dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money on this, and told me that he wanted you dead and he provided us with your name ,picture and other necessary information’s I needed about you. So I have sent my boy’s to track you down where you are right now and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation on you, and they have done that but I told them not to kill you that I will like to contact you and see if your life is Important to you or not.since we have find out that you are innocent.

Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? As someone has paid us to kill you. Get back to me now if you are ready to pay some fees to spare your life, $7,500 is all you need to spend, You will first of all pay $4,000 then I will send a tape to you which i recorded every discussion I hade with the person who wanted you dead and as soon as you get the tape, you will pay the remaining $3,500. If you are not ready for my help, then I will carry on with my job straight-up. Write me back as soon as you get my mail so I can tell you the neccessary steps to take.
FROM THE DESK OF MR JUBRIL MUHAMMED.

PS: I did report the gmail address of this person to Google.

Canada Post is promoting literacy

Well sort of… I mean they must be hiring illiterate postal carriers from the photographic evidence contained here. You’d think they’d cover the words “Please Do Not Bend” at their orientations but, to be fair, there is a six letter word in there. And if you think I’m being a little hard on our postie here, well, I’ve been receiving lots of these through the mail lately and over half of them have been bent…

Please Do Not Bend

A Very High Batting Average or Terry at Bat

Those that know me well would knit together their eyebrows in wonder at either of those titles. Although I am a physical guy, enjoying the outdoors and commuting by bike year round, I am not the sporting type. It’s not that I don’t like sports. I rather enjoy participating in them but I was always the last to be picked for any team. I was the scrawny, asthmatic loner who preferred books to baseball bats or hockey sticks. That all changed in my adolescence and especially after the physically challenging summer of Junior Rangers. But I still prefer books to organized sport and have never enjoyed simply watching sports.
So why, you may ask, would I suddenly have a very high batting average?
And I really do.
In fact I would wager that my batting average is far higher than that of any of the colleagues at work who are sportos and currently participating in softball leagues. With a smaller bat than you are probably imagining I am the mighty Casey who didn’t strike out.
How is this possible?
It all began last night. My son Jonathan had planned to have friends over for the last free night of the the long weekend. It may have something to do with me gulping back a rather large energy drink (a Xyience Xenergy Cran Razz) that had been languishing in the fridge. I’m not a big energy drink guy and never have coffee. I had bought that can weeks ago to help me stay awake on a trip home from Ottawa. So around midnight my bloodstream was swimming in caffeine and whatever else they put in that demon drink.
So I was awake around midnight when I went to pick Jonathan up from his job at McDonalds.
Very, very awake.
I got him home and one of his guests had arrived. In fact the only stalwart guest that managed to brave the wilds of the Grignon household.
The first thing Jonathan wanted to do was set off his fireworks with his friend. So, risking the wrath of my neighbours, I supported my son’s pyromania and went down to a small parking lot behind the house with Justin and them. Jonathan had bought a large box full of very powerful stuff from some shady intinerant supplier. While setting them off I don’t mind telling you that some of us ran behind a dumpster every time we heard a siren or saw a police car or had some of the more outrageous munitions filling the sky. But even a hundred dollars worth of explosives has to end.
Sound like a good sport story so far? Ha! Hold your damn horses I’m getting to it.
So there I was back at the house. Still very awake. The boys were watching a David Lynch movie and I went downstairs where it was nice and cool and a lot less weird. I was playing a computer game.
Some time later I heard some rustling in the walls. I’ve heard that noise before so I ignored it. I thought a chipmunk had a nest behind the front wall of the house but I wasn’t positive. I’d seen one disappearing into a hole at the base of the front steps over a year ago and I’ve assumed that’s what it was.
There’s a cut out in the drop ceiling for the chimney clean out and, around 1 AM, I heard something fall down through it. I know this because, whatever it was, it struck the strings on an electric bass below. They were still vibrating when I sprang up to investigate.
Grabbing the most immediate ‘weapon’ to hand I found myself with two drumsticks from my son’s snare drum in my right hand.
When there it swiftly came. Flying right at me.
I was pure nerves and muscle. I don’t recall my brain getting in the act at all.
I just lashed out and Thwack! There was a deliberate connection with the small end of one of the drumsticks.
Batting a thousand the mighty Casey had knocked the small brown bat into the corner. It hit with a distinct ‘Schmuck’ and fell like a stone behind a big Peavey speaker. It thought it was all over for the poor thing.
I just stood there, eyes wide with caffeine, for a few minutes. I might have blinked. I felt like a schmuck too. I don’t like killing animals if it isn’t absolutely necessary.
This wasn’t the first bat we’ve had in this house but somehow I’ve never connected the scrambling in the walls with a bat. I thought it was the damn chipmunk. Was that scrambling sound a bat or bats for all this time?
So I fetch my trusty butterfly net that I catch bats with and a flashlight.
I couldn’t find it. That’s not too surprising as bats can hide in surprisingly small places. I was just relieved I hadn’t killed it. So I returned to my computer and checked with my net for it fruitlessly every little while for the next two hours. Hell, there was no way I could sleep until much later.

Now it’s the next day.
I found the bat.
It must have succombed to its injuries sometime during the night since I’d checked that very spot repeatedly.

No more energy drinks.