Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fleeting


Hidden in Mother Nature's algorithm for creating life are the instructions for the Ephemeroptera, the Mayflies.  An ancient order of insects whose adult lives are short - fantastically short compared to the years that the nymph stage can live. In fact, the adults of some species emerge from their aquatic forms, rise from the surface of a lake or stream into the air, mate, lay their eggs, and expire in only a few minutes. Their ephemeral lives have been romanticized in literature for centuries - most often as a metaphor proving that life is short.  I learned about mayflies when I heard about their sudden hatches from clear streams in the mountains and the country north of where I grew up and  I have long admired their beauty.  

In my training as a naturalist, I came to value the mayflies for a different reason. The mayflies are considered indicator species and their absence or presence tells us something about the ecosystem in which they live.  That's because mayflies do not tolerate pollution, or low water quality, or unnatural swings in water conditions.  In addition, because the immature forms live for a long time, their disappearance may provide evidence of ecological pollution long after the event has been swept downstream.  Finally, mayflies typically form part of a diverse community of organisms in a healthy ecosystem.  That diversity can be measured and summarized as an index and the health of different aquatic ecosystems can be rated by comparing their index of heterogeneity - a task that can be performed without the necessity of being able to key organisms to species level.  It is only necessary to be able to tell different organisms apart from each other, which can be done without years of training and study.

Understanding the life cycle of the mayflies not only helps us appreciate the marvelous and fleeting beauty of our natural world, but also helps us understand our place in this world.  And because we and mayflies both depend on the health of our environment, when the existence of the mayflies are threatened we can be sure that our existence is threatened for the same reasons.

Monday, September 21, 2020

At midday the color of the sky was pure...

...and deep...

...and welcoming. 

I can't remember seeing it like this. It made me think that this is now a different world.

I felt solemn and playful at the same time. A question arose: 

...which one? 

And what makes me feel like I must choose?

 

In Flux

 

As we all struggle with the flux of today’s world and the forces that deflect us from our intended path, let’s remember how it feels, how centering it is, to take care of another person, and take care of ourselves, and thus return to our own true nature.


Monday, August 3, 2020

Heat Sink Philosophy

A favorite roommate in college, Ron, once said while in the throes of some kind of thermodynamics problem, "the best heat sink is no heat sink."  Think about it.

I still feel so close to getting this.  It's deep man.  And in my never-ending quest to apply everything that I learn to everything that I think I understand, here is my bicycling corollary:  We ride bikes so as to not ride bikes.  Think about that.  Not too long.  It doesn't really make sense. 

What I mean is, yes we ride bikes because we enjoy riding bikes, but we really ride bikes so that...well, something else entirely.

Maybe it's to clear our mind, maybe it's to live longer, maybe it's to do more non-riding physical activity, maybe it's about competition or endorphins, or the confidence we get from feeling strong.  Maybe, because when we get good at it, we get a sense of mastery and competence.  Personally, I get all of that, and I get a lot of social interaction, which can either feed my sense of connection or make me feel surly.  All of which, depending on my mood, I seem to need.

If one could have everything we get from riding bikes without riding bikes, we might not ride bikes at all.  Nah.  Forget I even started this little talk.  Clearly, I am not making sense.


Friday, July 10, 2020

A Life of Crime

My first memory was of setting out on an adventure on my tricycle (it was red). Mom said fine if I stayed on the sidewalk in front of the house. Naturally, I went further - all the way around the block. By the time Mom caught up to me, I was already home and sitting on the porch in front of the house grinning. Because I didn't get caught, Mom couldn't punish me. Which led to a life of crime. I blame Mom.
 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Let Not Perfection be the Enemy of Fun

I recall asking a fellow rider, who owned bikes of steel, titanium, aluminum, and carbon, what was the difference. He replied, rather smugly, that they pretty much did the same thing. Perhaps it’s a case of convergent evolution that all of his bikes filled the same niche in his cycling ecosystem. I am starting to feel the same way about bikes I have known.

When I recently picked up a NOS Cannondale CAAD5, now a 20 year old design, and assembled it with modern components, I discovered that it was just as good, as fun, as my Hi-Mod Super Six. The CAAD5 frame I paid about $200 for. The Super Six was a little more (a lot little). I have ridden many others as well and was impressed by all of them. Sure, some fit a little better, some were a little more responsive, some cut through the air a little better. After all that and about 30 years of bike passion, however, I am less obsessed about what best means. To paraphrase, “Let not perfection be the enemy of fun.”

Friday, June 12, 2020

Room

Is there room in the world for poetry when people are murdered for the color of their skin?
Shouldn't we wait to sing until every person can be themselves?
Is it wrong to plan for the future when the now is in tatters?
When does the food I take in have flavor again?

Is there room in the world for children when there is so little hope to grow up?
Shouldn't we wait to play until every person is safe?
Is it wrong to think about love when there is so much hate?
When can I risk to feel happy again?

Is there room in the world for being powerless?
Shouldn't we wait for everyone to have power?
Is it wrong to hope when hope is all there is?
When will I find a way to hope?

Is there room in the world for differences that are not differences?
Should we wait until differences don't matter?
Is is wrong to celebrate differences that are not differences?
When will Black Lives Matter?