Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Swimming In My Own Sweat

        I've been known to sweat profusely...especially when laboring at my shop or climbing one of the local roads or trails when it's hovering in the 90's (because it never gets to 100 degrees in Chester). I can usually remedy this situation with a quick dip in the river, lake or even in my "cold plunge" hot tub at home. However, it's Winter and I'm thankful for any heat that develops in the bike shop.
        My mornings often include a 45 minute session in our TheraSauna. It's a corner cabinet of far- infrared heat therapy that has become a necessary part of my life. Not everyone can appreciate "the workout" it provides. In fact, not everyone can perspire freely...I've had a dozen different sauna buddies over the years and I'm amazed that only half of them have gotten seriously sweaty while we share this space.
        The conversations are often easy and free-flowing...just as the Finns claim, the sauna is a great place for people to expose their true feelings and concerns. Finnish parents utilize this valuable family time to keep track of their teenager's progress and concerns. I thank everyone who has spent time in the sauna with me. You are showing your love, trust and non-judgemental nature by sharing this time to evacuate the toxins with me in this intimate setting.
        The last couple of mornings in the sauna have been especially important. I've been moving kayaks, electric bicycles and furniture... and I've driven two thousand miles in the last week and a half. So, as you can imagine, a couple of hours of quiet sweaty meditation in the TheraSauna has been a life saver. Back, neck, shoulder and hip rehabilitation is an effective specialty of the far-infrared dry sauna and I need this kind of therapy four or five times a year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

You've Got To Keep Moving

        I read once that sitting is bad for your health and sitting for long periods will absolutely kill you. Most often when I am at work (or on my computer) I am standing, squatting or squirreling around the shop like a man on a mission. I very seldom sit. I usually get about three hours of "sit time" in the evening while watching TV... however, I make a point of rising at least every fifteen minutes to do small errands around the house (get a new log for the fire, make a cup of tea, survey the property, let the dog out, let the dog in).
        I've been friends with a fellow named Jack for 30 years. He's a cyclist who migrated north to Chester in his 63rd year of life after a career as a body man (on cars) near Glendora, Ca. He made an impression on me that I'll never shake...he was mated to his roadbike like a pro-peloton cyclist and his motto was; "You've got to be smooth and you have got to keep moving." Jack is now 93 years young and when he steps into the bicycle shop where I work, he dances in...kind of sideways like he has a 40's Jazz tune playing in his head.
        I'm thinking that driving a motor vehicle is one of those things that will kill you...and unless you are a residential delivery milkman, you will always be sitting when you drive. I ride my bicycle to and from work nearly every day and as I said, I seldom sit at work, so, as you can see, I am planning to live into my nineties like Jack...one problem, I don't dance as well or as often as Jack but, I do like older Jazz.
       We have numerous gadgets that keep track of our steps, our blood pressure and count our beats per minute, generally trying to inspire us to keep moving. However, there are many more gadgets that discourage movement...presenting a screen that demands attention and distorts our awareness of the 'here and now'. In fact, these screens demand that we split our attention so that we even lose track of the task at hand (like driving, or cooking, or parenting).
       Generally, I'm saying that this 'digital age' discourages us from dancing, cycling and hiking through the days we have left. So, when you think about it, it's really no surprise that the lifespans of 'civilized' people has been shortening during this 21st century.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rude, Crass, Dishonest, Delusional, Insensitive, Braggadocio, Insincere, Tainted and Not A Reader.

        My fourth grade teacher, Mrs Snow told me, " Chuck Elliot, you read so much and such a variety of books that I think you could be President someday." I thought, at the time, she meant President of Ramona Lane Elementary School. I was leading the "Gold Star Reading Wall" competition and we were headed for Easter Break. I had a stack of biographies under my arm. Major distractions like, Alan Shepard orbiting earth and me running (almost out of control) down dunes along the coast of Lake Michigan and as the oldest, being in charge of a pack of sisters while my step-father took my mother out to dinner three times that week, prevented me from devoting enough time to reading my vacation biographies.  And in fact, I lost that Gold Star competition to a girl named Sharon Ellis, (but, we know girls can't become President).
        Mrs. Snow hadn't a clue what it takes to become President, anyhow. I admired Presidents, especially JFK. I stopped admiring Presidents shortly after he was assassinated. I started running long-distance at thirteen which left a lot less time for reading. Maybe reading was over-rated. Now I am incredibly disillusioned about what it takes to be President, or how a President is supposed to behave.
        I pedal my bicycle long distances these days in an attempt to unravel the confusing contradictions and disasters that tie us all up in knots daily. Often, somewhere along the route I look for a place to immerse my overheated body in cool clear water so that I can find a refreshing new perspective before returning to my happy place (home). It's worked so far. I'm working on my 69th year on this planet and I'm in no hurry to follow Alan Shepard beyond this atmosphere.
        I have been reading a lot lately and am getting no closer to being qualified as a candidate for President. The qualities required for occupying such an office have all evaporated and been rendered counterfeit anyhow. I just want to find a quiet road and keep turning over the cranks until I find another perfect skinny dip.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spooky...Those Pre-election Blues, Again.


        Where are we going with all this? Even Brazil is getting in on the act, electing a new fascist/nationalist president that wants to turn the Brazilian rainforest into cash. I just want to ride my bike! The mid-term elections will be over soon enough (6 days) but, what's not over in six days is this drought we are experiencing in NorCal. We were told that we'd have a wet warm Winter...I sure hope they are right. So much to worry about...and so little time.
        Actually, what am I worried about? I've had a good run. Now is time to put on that elder smile and enjoy each sunrise. We hiked with our six month old pup to Beauty Lake in the Caribou Wilderness this last Sunday and found that nothing had changed...still a great place to recharge the batteries and wet the whistle...whatever that means. Our Black Labrador puppy loves trail hiking and lake-bagging. She needs a lot of attention and she is not so fond of riding behind the bicycle in her trailer....she has ceased howling all the way to work...but she tries to hide when I say, Load up, it's time to go to work. So, we ride a lot less and hike every chance we get. We have learned that we can 'crate her' for one hour in the afternoon without undue stress, so that we can ride together. Nothing better than a new puppy to bring you back to the 'here and now'.
        So really, there's very little to worry about...as long as the sun keeps rising in the eastern sky and we are here to witness it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Refusing To Believe The Science

       I am absolutely amazed at how often normal Americans resist learning and information. I started thinking about this while motoring through Oregon last week.
       Let's start with reports that smoking causes cancer, respiratory disease and heart problems....and damages the people near you. This is not new information, the American Cancer Society has been throwing these facts at us for fifty years. The majority of people driving around eastern Oregon are smokers...their truck windows are coated by a blue film on the inside.
       Next, I'm standing in line at a grocery in Burns, Oregon while the store manager is training a new cashier. I'm holding a jar of organic peanut butter, a loaf of sourdough bread, celery, mustard and a baby loaf of white cheddar cheese (made in Oregon). "Oh, here's a guy that eats only healthy food." says the manager. I look at the cart behind me and the full bags in front of me...Cheetos, Diet Pepsi, Lucky Charms and Spam prevail...It's because I want to stay healthy, I reason, out loud... They all chortle loudly at the same moment.
       Exercise is another issue the literature covers quite well. You don't have to train like an athlete, you just have to keep moving under your own power...a walk with the dog or the grandkids. Americans are unique in this, from what I've witnessed around the world, they jump in the car to drive two or three blocks to get the mail, pick up kids at school or to get a morning coffee.
       Then there's the issue of 'climate change' and increasing CO2 levels and how these occurrences are changing the planet and our daily lives. Forget it.
       Americans can't figure out how to eat, stay active, give up bad habits...we are never going to have any hope of digesting the information about climate change, it just isn't going to happen....we are TOAST.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Whoa...Beware Of Angry White Men

        I'm starting to understand what's going on in this country. I've been hearing these rumblings every week for the last ten years but, I hadn't categorized this behavior correctly. I see it now. There's "attitude" in how we drive, how we recreate, how we hunt for food, how we shop, how we watch TV and play video games. How we vote. How we are willing to bully migrants and people of color, generally. Why prison populations are skewed heavily toward minorities. Why women are shoved around, discounted and still distant from true equality. Geez, it's people just like me...older, angry white men. Guys who believed in the "American Dream" but, have found it to be just outside their grasp.
        The problem may be that our expectations were a little too grand...however, now we are backsliding and may never get there. Like many dreams, the harder we pedal the more elusive the goal becomes. Anger may be too strong, for many disappointment has not yet evolved into full-blown anger.             The symptoms are there...'spring loaded to the pissed-off position'. I see it in the "Nightly News", in the campaign rallies and in the wording of propositions on the ballot. Why do we go into hock for huge noisy trucks or loud rumbling motorcycles. Why do we wear graffiti on our bodies and shave our heads? Don't tread on me, is the message......"get out of my way" is repeated often when we drive. I don't see a mellowing of this attitude in our future. Americans refuse to be humbled, or admit to being humbled. We were brainwashed to believe that we are exceptional, entitled...manifest destiny...it's in our DNA.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Goodbye Summer...Dang, Where Did It Go?

        Old people are always saying things like that...."Where did the decade go?" I'm not old so, I must be saying it for another reason. Summer, oh, the plans I had for Summer. For various reasons the season didn't go exactly as planned but, the big reason (not the new puppy) has to be the fact that I am still working six days a week during the busy season. Campouts and overnight hikes are not easy when (you have a very young puppy) your due at work nearly every morning of Summer.
        I am really looking forward to some extra days off...and feeling my body recover from wrenching on and walking bicycles to their designated sale positions and returning them to their overnight stable. I've been going through the same routine for nearly twenty-five years...inventory out, inventory in. I love marketing and merchandising and interior design but, I'm starting to feel like I'm over the initial thrill of owning my own business. Hey, it's good...it's great to be your own boss...but, it's getting nearer the time to do something else.
       I'm not using the R word (retirement) here because I seriously enjoy putting people on bicycles and watching their reactions when they see how pleasurable and easy cycling is...and how sensible the whole thing is. I'm all in for a couple more years (maybe seventy is the best retirement age) that is, unless someone wants to lay $900,000 of their recent inheritance on me for the entire package.