Brief Thoughts From The Road…

It’s been a busy few weeks in my Spoke And World. Still, I’ve managed to get on the road every day. Below are a handful of my shorter thought-chews from the last seven rides. I put these blurbs up on Facebook each Monday through Saturday mornings. If you enjoy them, please follow me there for daily updates. Trust me, it’s the best thing on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/SpokeAndWordJhciacb/ 

Daylight Dying Time: 

I’ve been obsessing on some remarkable statistics that I only recently learned. That each year, on the Monday after the spring time change, when we lose one hour of sleep, emergency room heart attacks increase by 24%. Conversely, on the Monday after each autumn time change, when we gain an hour of sleep, there’s a 21% decline in emergency room heart attacks. In the two states that don’t observe Daylight Savings Time, Arizona and Hawaii, emergency room heart attacks don’t spike in either direction. 

I have nothing to add to that. I just find it remarkable that we know this and do nothing about it. 

Gosh Yang It:

I just completed Andrew Yang‘s most recent book, Forward. Whatever your feelings might be for Yang, he sees the future in more realistic terms than any American politician — in my opinion. He recognizes that the world has changed more in the last 10-years than in the last 40-years combined. It’s time the rest of us acknowledge that too.

Yang understands that the bread and butter issues which have driven conversations, campaigns, and subsequently policy for decades are being overtaken today by issues which many politicians don’t even acknowledge — or are afraid to. Job loss due to automation, climate change, and expanding income inequity are among his top priorities. But that’s not what I want to talk about. 

The mid-chapters in Yang‘s book explore and tie together the impacts of social media, changes in journalism, technology manipulation such as deep fakes, bots, algorithms, and the impact that the mining and the sale of data and personal information all have on political campaigns — and he does it in a way that would be beneficial for everyone to read. I don’t care what your political slant is or what your values are, everyone can learn something from this book.

The Responsibility Of Curtness:

A few months back I released a client. She was good in the weight room — strong, generally focused, and capable. She was also passive-aggressive and a bit mouthy — often to a fault. When she entered my studio for what would be her final session, among the first thing she said to me that day was…

“I know I can be curt. So you have to tell me — you need to let me know when I overstep any professional boundaries…”

So far as I’ve ever been taught, that’s not how bad behavior works, and certainly not in a business environment. She had literally just put the onus of her own bad behavior on me. After the session I sent her a note letting her know I wouldn’t be renewing her sessions which had expired that day.

I’m normally able to let go of things like that, but this one’s still lingering. Anyway, it showed up a couple of times riding this week. 

Clear The Land — And The People: 

Transformed by years of drought, what was once the San Luis Rey River, is more or less the San Luis Rey Woodlands these days. The river still runs when it rains, and if there’s enough rain, it’ll run all winter, but only through a small swath of the once wide river bed. Through the last decade or so, each year a young forest springs up through the sands beneath the river that is no more. And the channel people once kayaked and canoed in, is now home to hundreds of homeless. 

This is the time of year when the county, in preparation for a possible rainy season, begins clearing that growth in the riverbed with bulldozers and heavy equipment. All of this, to allow the river to flow freely and minimize risk from flooding. However, in clearing the growth, they level dozens of shelters, tents, and barriers which protect the hundreds who call the riverbed home. 

This is a seasonal event, so I’m certain nobody was taken by surprise. And there’s still enough growth in the periphery of the riverbed that people can find shelter, put up tents, and be protected. It’s just my annual reminder of how fragile it is to be homeless. I wish them all well in their forced relocations. 

The Breezes Are Heaven:

Las Brisas is a Mexican restaurant I pass on my homestretch. It’s an institution in Fallbrook. I don’t eat there often due to limited vegan and vegetarian options, but I’ll say this…

Las Brisas is the best smelling restaurant on the planet. It sits between a BBQ restaurant and an Italian restaurant. Despite this, and as I ride past, all I can smell is Las Brisas. If heaven smells like steamed corn tortillas, I might have to straighten up my act — that I get in and get a good seat.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 180

Climbing: 7,300’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 10,200

Seat Time: 11 hours 49 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Don Walker. Enjoy…

Ed’s Last Flight…

Shortly before heading out the other day, I read that Ed Beauvais had passed away. He was 84. Beauvais was a giant in the aviation industry, and was a member of the Aviation Hall of Fame.

Beauvais was best known as the founder and CEO of America West Airlines. Prior to that, he had an extensive career as an aviation executive and consultant with Frontier Airlines (the original incarnation), Western Airlines, and Continental Airlines. However, in the 1980s and early 90s, Beauvais put Phoenix on the aviation map. 

I was fortunate to work for America West in the early days. I was hired as a security guard when the company had just 900 employees. Within a few years, the company grew to nearly 10,000. Because of that phenomenal growth, I was able to coax my way into an analyst position in the Pilot Planning department, despite my lack of experience, and I remained there for the next couple of years. My analyst gig was my first adult job after leaving the Coast Guard, and changed my life in many ways. But back to Ed…

The thing I remember most about Ed Beauvais, and something I still think of often, is that he was a people’s CEO — in the same way Tommy Lasorda was a player’s coach in major league baseball.

Every other Tuesday, unless he was legitimately unable to do it, Ed worked a 6-hour shift throwing bags on the ramp at Sky Harbor Airport. He wore the burgundy coveralls that all America West ramp employees wore. He wore steel toed boots. He wore ear protection. He threw bags. He rolled up his sleeves. He even ate crappy chicken salad sandwiches out of cellophane wrappers. And he kept up with the best of them. 

A part of my job was to run pilot scheduling information from my office to the ramp a couple times each day. Occasionally I’d see Ed cutting it up in the break room with other ramp employees. I might also see him standing under a 757 offloading bags and covered in sweat. 

Ed was the most passionate person I’ve ever known in a business environment, and was relentlessly positive. I have few memories of seeing him without a smile on his face. Ed was a visionary. He started the first in-house travel agency of a major airline — Ameriwest Vacations. He also created the concept of fully cross-trained and cross-utilized CSR (all ground personnel). As he used to say…

“There are only CSRs…”

Ticket agent

Baggage handler

Gate agent

Flight attendant

Reservation agent 

There were no specialists. Every person hired in at that level was cross-trained in all of those positions, and therefore could be utilized at any of them. People could bid their seniority — a senior employee who wanted to work in-flight could do that, but they had to take at least one rotation off per quarter and work a different job. The thing America West was most known for, was also Ed’s idea… free cocktails on all flights. No wonder America West took over Phoenix in just a few years.  

Ed Beauvais personally signed off on me, a low-level analyst with no aviation degree, to help start a crew-base in Honolulu, in preparation for regular service to Nagoya Japan. Shortly after I returned from that assignment, I left America West to return to Colorado. It was a bittersweet departure, because America West was the first corporate family I’d ever had — and Ed Beauvais was the patriarch. 

There’s a handful of business leaders who influenced my early adult life. Ed Beauvais is at the top of that list.

There’s something else though, something I couldn’t find in any of the obituaries and articles I read about him after he passed, but I can speak to it personally…

Ed Beauvais told a joke to somebody every day of his life — or at least he did during my time at America West. He believed that humor in the workplace was a gateway to better morale, and to this day, I believe that to be true. To underscore Beauvais’ sense of humor I’ll throw one more at you before I close this…

My partner in the Pilot Planning department and I spent so much time there during a particularly difficult phase, that we actually pitched a tent in the middle of the office — as a comical protest. We even hung out there in our downtime. One morning Beauvais walked past the tent, and without slowing or looking down, he dropped a paper bag at the tent door. It was a bag of marshmallows, some graham crackers, and a few Hershey bars — for making s’mores. 

Ed Beauvais got his final pair of wings this week. If he’s as true to his form in heaven as he was on earth, I’m certain he’ll try and start an airline there. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 175

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 9,900

Seat Time: 11 hours 33 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from The Bellrays. Enjoy…

Chasing Joe’s Musical Argument…

My friend Joe likes to stir up complicated discussions on Facebook — he’s a lawyer, so he’s pretty good at it. It’s usually politics and religion with Joe, but occasionally he’ll throw music into the mix. Just before I headed out for a ride the other day, I saw this on Joe’s feed…

I was just curious if any of my Facebook friends want to make a case that popular music is even close to what it was 30-years ago and before…

Occasionally, Joe swings and misses, but he has the ability to hit one out of the park. This particular discussion didn’t disappoint. It also got me thinking…

…Joe is 100% right on this one. I spent much of my riding time that day formulating why that’s the case. It’s a discussion I’ve had with my music friends many times over. This was my reply to Joe’s question…

The simple answer is this…

From the early 1950s through the mid-1990s, every genre of music evolved organically into its own — for the very first time. Every category of music was new. 

Sock-hop rock, British Invasion, bubble gum, British blues, psychedelic rock, country rock, disco, yacht rock, soul, funk, heavy metal, hair metal, punk, new wave, grunge, rap, hip-hop, gangsta rap — et all, had never been done before. 

What an extraordinary time in popular music

People took risks, tried new methods, participated in unlikely collaborations, took drugs that had never been taken before, evolved with ever-changing social norms, and through all of this, recording technology changed at an exponential rate. It was inarguably the most fertile time in popular music history.

The Big Bang of rock ‘n’ roll came in 1951, and it’s been expanding ever since. And like the Big Bang of the universe, the more it expands, the more complex it becomes. But the stuff that happened just after the Big Bang — those first 40 years of music, that’s when all the elements were formed. 

I let my answer with Joe end there, but I’ll expand on it a little bit more here…

The reason music from the 1950s through the 1990s is a cut above everything since, is because it was fresh. Notwithstanding there was less of it and there were fewer platforms to learn about it. We allowed ourselves to get more familiar with it. The playing field is theoretically better today — more artists, more music, and better platforms improve things for everyone. But with all the artists out there today, and all that music, we only become partially intimate with portions of it. 

I attempt to listen to new artists and new music, but the last time I discovered an artist who compelled me buy their entire catalog was probably 20-years ago. There’s just too much opportunity to jump around and try something else. We don’t just want to know what music is out there, we want to know what else is out there.

Though I missed the sock-hop stuff and the early British invasion, I’ve been around for everything since. My tastes have waxed and waned through the years. I’ve been a punk, a hick, a rocker, and from 1974 to 1978 I thought I was black. I rode the New Wave, couldn’t have been more excited to get the latest Pablo Cruise LP, and once walked 6-miles in the snow to see Molly Hatchet. Somewhere in-between I grew my hair out and got it permed so I’d look like Peter Frampton. I’d let a stranger into my house and walk away with all my bikes before I’d let him take my Steely Dan catalog.

It’s not that music isn’t good now. It’s that, in popular music anyway, it’s all been done before. The metaphor I’ll close with is this…

In 1977 if I recorded an album onto a cassette, it sounded good. But if I took that cassette and made a recording of it on another cassette, the sound was slightly diminished. And if I took the most recent cassette and recorded it onto another tape, it would be diminished that much more. Essentially that’s what’s been happening with popular music since the 1990s. Each time a genre gets copied, it gets diminished. It’s still music, but it’s not new — and there’s too much of it to get familiar with. That’s my take, and I’m stickin’ to it. 

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 178

Climbing: 7,900’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 10,100

Seat Time: 11 hours 51 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Otis Rush. Enjoy…

Can I Get A Witness…

I rode up Alvarado Street the other day. It’s a road I don’t take often due to a steep, and I’ll confess, uncomfortable climb. It’s one of the few roads that keeps my speed in the single digits — generally about 9 mph. However, I wanted to work off the french fries I stole from mom at lunch, so I took a left where I generally take a right.

There’s a house I pass on the way up Alvarado — owned by some of my first clients in Fallbrook, nearly 20-years ago. It’s a family of three — a father, his wife, and their (then) teenage daughter. I trained the parents for general fitness and for their daughter, a competitive tennis player, I was a private strength and conditioning coach. 

They invited me over for dinner one evening, maybe a few months after our professional relationship began. I was new to town and grateful for the invite. I even wore long pants that evening — which doesn’t happen more than a few times a decade. I arrived at dinner with a bottle of wine and some flowers for my hosts. We sat in the living room and caught up for a few minutes, but they were quick to serve dinner.

I was escorted to the dining room and to a table which more resembled a holiday meal than a casual dinner. Something among the fabulous place settings stood out though — on one dinner plate was a stack of books and pamphlets. The book on top, A Purpose Driven Life, was making its way through churches across the nation at the time. 

As I sat, my host turned the deadbolt on the door leading from the dining room to the back patio. It occurred to me only later, that might have been for effect. As his wife began bringing dishes from the kitchen into the dining room, my host began talking about his journey into Christianity. I immediately felt uncomfortable.

Dinner was served, and forgive the expression, but the sales-pitch continued through the entire meal. It was loud, relentless, and I was afforded no time to speak or reply on my own behalf. I was being witnessed to — a concept I was familiar with, but had never experienced. After dinner we settled in the living room for a continuation of the same. 

Feeling less comfortable, I made attempts to change the conversation or suggest it might be time to go. I was met with scenario after scenario that might benefit my soul, and was asked repeatedly for a commitment to join them at church the following Sunday. I gave the same vague excuse each time I was pressed — that I was unsure whether or not I’d be working that Sunday. I didn’t have anything against church, but I didn’t want to be coerced into going. 

Their schpeel continued into the evening and I was getting weary. I wanted nothing more than to get in my car and drive away, but felt trapped. It must have been as clear to them I wanted to leave as it was to me that they weren’t willing to release me. I sat for a couple of hours, listening to all their brand of Christianity could offer my life. The evening came to conclusion just before midnight, but not without a couple more attempts to get me to commit to attending church with them. 

I couldn’t drive home fast enough. I felt dirty as I drove away — like my mind had been violated, because it had been. To this day it was the most uncomfortable I’ve been in the presence of social contemporaries. I didn’t feel violated because of the content of their offering, but from their method of delivery.

The church they were associated with, I learned in subsequent weeks, one of the larger ones in this area, was known for this pressing sales approach. I’m not sure if any perks, credits, or heavenly incentives are offered for each soul brought to the table, but they got no bounty for me that night.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m religion’s biggest fan, though I subscribe to none. More than half the books I own have to do with the world’s religions, both historic and current, and their value in society.  I will argue until my dying breath that the world needs religion — it’s the mortar that holds the bricks of culture together. 

We live in a time when far too many people are critical of or are outright against religion. It’s not religion we should be against, not ever. It is the abuse of religion which gives all faiths a bad name — in the same way that it’s the abuse of any institution that gives those institutions bad reputations. And I can think of few worse abuses of religion, than trying to get somebody to commit to it against their will — over chicken cacciatore and a raspberry vinaigrette salad. 

I didn’t let that incident sour me on Christianity, Christians, or the upside of that tradition. It did though, reinforce my stance on propagating any religion — that it should be made available, but never forced down anyone’s throat.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 171

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 9,800

Seat Time: 11 hours 07 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Los Cenzontles. Enjoy…

Spitting On History…

It was the winter of 1987. My mom worked for the Indian Health Service in Chinle Arizona. Trudy and I lived in Denver and made the trip to see mom for a long weekend. We split the drive into two days, spending our first night in Durango, and driving into Chinle the following morning. 

Chinle is a small community near the center of the Navajo reservation. Home to Canyon De Chelly and some of the most spectacular scenery in the American southwest, the town exists in complete isolation — the kind of isolation one might feel if they were in Antarctica or on Mars. That kind of isolation was as much the attraction for me as the scenery.

We left Durango under cloudy skies and in sub-freezing temperatures. The forecast through the desert was more of the same. As we approached Chinle on Highway 191, 30-miles or so from town, we began to see the occasional dirt road leading to a hogan, a mobile home, or some combination of the two. These are called Navajo Suburbs. 

As snow began to fall, we came across a sign reminding us how isolated we were…

 YEILD TO LIVESTOCK

The Navajo reservation is open-range, so it’s not unusual to see cattle, sheep, and horses crossing the road — or even gathering in it. As we slowed to yield the intersection, we noticed an elderly Navajo woman, in traditional dress with a shawl across her shoulders, standing beside the road with her thumb out — hitchhiking. It might’ve been 30° and large flakes of snow were falling slowly to the ground.

We slowed down to offer the old woman a ride, but before we came to a complete stop, and upon looking at us, she spit on the ground in front of her and turned her back to us — indicating she didn’t want a ride. Not from Anglos anyway — or at least that’s how we perceived it. 

I honestly don’t remember if we pursued offering her a ride beyond that, but I don’t think we did. I know we were both humbled and saddened, but we knew why. I remember making the comment that the old woman wasn’t spitting at us — she was spitting on history. I’m pretty sure Trudy and I didn’t talk again until we arrived in Chinle. 

At least a few times a month I ride through some of the local Indian communities in North San Diego County. A few of those roads are similar to the Navajo suburbs — long dirt driveways cutting through dry chaparral, with the occasional mobile home a few hundred yards in the distance, though there are no hogans around here. It takes me back. 

Nearly 35 years later, I still think about it — about the old woman who would rather stand and let snow fall on her shoulders on a frigid morning than accept a ride from a couple of white folks in a Renault Alliance. Somehow, I don’t think much has changed.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 173

Climbing: 7,300’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,900

Seat Time: 11 hours 12 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from David Lindley and Wally Ingram . Enjoy…

Rising Above My Darker Feed…

I’ve been among social media‘s biggest fans. From the beginning, I’ve seen the benefits and the upsides of it in ways I think most people don’t, and perhaps can’t. In the chronological blink of an eye, the world connected in a way that would have seemed like magic only 100-years ago.

And because I’ve seen and focused more on the positive aspects of social media, I’ve been resistant to criticize it, let alone estrange myself from it. That’s not to suggest I don’t recognize the downsides of it all. It’s just my perspective has been that social media, like any tool, is only as good, or bad, as the intentions it’s used with. For my part, I’ve tried to use it with good intentions. 

I’ll admit though, it’s getting harder these days. Social media, Facebook in particular, has become an outlet for so much hate, negativity, and ignorance that, at times, it overwhelms and depresses me. I truly don’t know what people are trying to accomplish by using it in these ways, but my feed has taken a noticeable tilt toward the darker side. 

And the thing is, my friends and connections haven’t really changed through the years. What’s changed has been the world around us — and how (ordinarily) good people are reacting poorly to those changes. How we respond to the changing world defines who we are. I don’t know, I guess we just all need somebody to hate — and a place to scream. 

And no, this isn’t where I’m going to say I’m walking away from social media or taking a break for a few weeks. I still see the upside, and I’m still grateful for the interactions I have with like-minded people in matters of philosophy, humor, and the arts.

It’s interesting though, and this is not new…

Much of what I think about when I ride my bikes through the hills of North County each day is the interactions I have with others on my social media platforms. I think about it as I pedal — the good, the bad, and the ugly of my feeds. 

Oh, and there’s this…

If I get hit by a car later today, and not survive, I’d be very proud of the social media legacy I’d leave behind — my digital imprint on the world. It’s honest. It represents me well. It involves no malice. It’s all been done with good intentions. I’m not sure how many people can say that. Some days, I’m not sure any people can say that. I can only say that I wish more people used social media this way. 

Funny — in a life where I’ve fucked up pretty much everything I’ve ever done, it’s ironic that social media is one of the few things I do well. At least I think I do it well.  

This is what I think about when a ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 168

Climbing: 7,100’

Mph Avg: 15.6

Calories: 9,600

Seat Time: 10 hours 45 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Ryan Adams. Enjoy…

Secretly Jealous…

The last thing I see as I ieave my driveway each day is my neighbor’s backyard. Well, it’s more complicated than that…

The people who reside next to me, once occupied the house I now live in. They owned it, but got foreclosed on. Because I live in the house they once owned, they’ve shunned me for the last six years. They avoid eye contact, don’t reciprocate when I offer a hello, and have pretended they don’t speak English when I’ve attempted to speak with them.

The thing is, they don’t live in the house next-door. They live in the backyard next-door. When they were foreclosed on seven years ago, and with no place else to go, the elderly woman who lives in the house next-door agreed to let them set up temporary shelters in her backyard.

They are a family of five — a mother and father, probably in their mid-50s, and their two adult children, a daughter and a son, who look to be in their mid-20s. The daughter has a toddler who’s maybe 3-years-old. 

The family lives in windowless plywood shacks, roughly 12’x12’. Each hut has electricity run by extension cords from the main house. The yard itself has been reduced to dirt, though they do have several gardens of vegetables, fruit trees, and even some flowers decorating the periphery. There’s a fence that divides their yard space from the main house. So far as I can tell, this is a business agreement and they don’t intermingle with the lady who owns the property and lives in the main house. They simply rent her backyard.

The mom and dad share one shack, with the two adult children each having their own. In-between the structures, in the central part of the yard, are a couple of easy-ups they use for common living spaces. Under one easy-up are lounge chairs and end tables. Under the other is a family-size picnic table where they dine. Behind the living spaces and towering over the dirt is a freestanding refrigerator, also powered by extension cord. Beside it is a gas powered grill — with side burners. This is their kitchen. 

The patriarch is independently employed in landscape maintenance. He works seven days per week, generally leaves about 5am, and returns about 3pm. His wife stays home, tends the gardens and her toddler grandson, and spends much of her day preparing the evening meal. The two adult children also leave early for jobs in town, and return in mid-afternoon also. 

At home, they seem to spend most of their non-sleeping time in the common areas under the easy-ups, where they cook, listen to traditional Mexican music from a boom-box, and play with the lone grandchild. When they’re not working, they’re together most of the time. I overhear a lot of conversation, laughter, and music. 

I admire it — and don’t mind saying I’m secretly jealous. It’s a simple life, not complicated. From a distance, it’s all so charming. They aren’t hung up on granite countertops, 80-inch wall-mounted televisions, and the latest heat resonating cookware. This is the epitome of functional minimalism. Each day as I roll my bike past the gate that secures them, I think to myself…

I could do that — I could totally live like that. And I mean it — I even aspire to it.  

I admire a man who wakes up early, works long days, and does so seven days per week. I admire the mom who stays home all day, tending the garden and preparing the evening meal. I admire that, despite they each have an improvised bungalow they could hide away in, they spend their time outdoors conversing, laughing, and listening to music. They even host social gatherings on occasion, where a dozen people or more show up with food, drink, and occasionally play live music. 

And I’ll be so bold as to say this…

If more of us live like that — lived minimally, spent our free time together as generationally undivided families, and conversed more, the world might be a better place. I don’t want to suggest what they have is utopia or that they even aspired to be were they are. Again, they once lived in the house I’m in now, with liberty and hardwood floors for all. But they seem at home in their circumstance and surroundings and not forlorn. They truly don’t seem to want for more.

If I’m being honest, I kind of don’t like the people next-door. I want to like them, but they’ve been rude to me, ignored me, and even hijacked my garden hose once to fill their water tanks. It’s hard to like somebody who treats me poorly — all for the crime of living in the house they couldn’t hold onto. Still, I’ll keep waving to them, smiling at them, and saying hello — even if ignored. And as I smile my neighborly smile, I have no idea if they can see through me — if they know I’m secretly jealous of the life that they live.

I’m certain I’ve offended more than a few with this viewpoint, even some close friends and family members. This wasn’t my desire and I hope you’ll forgive me. I just never bought into the dream — not completely anyway. Contrary to my father, good enough has always been good enough for me. If we all lived a little more minimally, even a little bit, I just think that would be nice.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 5

Miles: 132

Climbing: 5,800’

Mph Avg: 15.4

Calories: 7,600

Seat Time: 8 hours 35 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Otis Gibbs. Enjoy…

Casualties Of Hate…

Like everyone else who’s witnessed what’s happening in Afghanistan, I’m saddened and feel lifeless. In the hours after seeing this unfold on both the big and small screens last week, I began to feel like I got sucked into a narrow vacuum hose and stuck with no way out.

The horrors in Afghanistan notwithstanding (that sentence in-itself is wretched), what’s crushing me just as much is how people are claiming exclusive rights to their strong opinions, and name-calling those they disagree with in the aftermath of it all. 

Once the war of opinions began, the war in Afghanistan became monumentally insignificant to them, though they’ll never admit this. It didn’t take long for the hate grenades to be lobbed back-and-forth across media platforms, including social media. And as usual, the insults and hate speech were lobbed without much thought. 

Boom — explosion!  

The insult landed. A direct hit. The damage was done. But how much damage, do you even know…?  Hope you feel better now. 

Insults are the weapons of discussion that people choose when their intelligence weakens. I frame it that way because most everyone has the intelligence not to use insults and hate speech. Of all the reasons I can think of not to insult somebody or belittle their opinion, chief among them is this…

That when people use the media and social media to project insults and hate speech, people who aren’t being targeted also get hit. You see, there’s collateral damage in being a dick. We’ve all heard the following cliché or something like it:

You never know what somebody else is battling, so be kind. 

The damage that can be done to somebody who lives with hidden turmoil and who hides it behind a strong face, may be far greater than the person throwing the insults know. I can speak to this first-hand. An insult or abusive speech might truly be the difference in a person’s bad day, bad week, or God willing, hopefully not in their life.

Everyone has their right to expression — to throw insults, use hate speech, and to express unsolicited strong opinions. And everyone else has their tipping point. And those who throw insults blindly, regularly, and the name of feeling more intelligent or superior to another, probably have no idea whether the person they are aiming at is approaching their tipping point — or what innocent bystanders might also receive that hate grenade. 

Ready. Aim. Insult…

Don’t worry about the casualties, so long as it makes you feel good. 

With that in mind, I have two (rhetorical) questions for anyone who has insulted anyone else in relation to what’s happened in Afghanistan…

What, specifically, did you get out of being mean to another person…?

How does the world become a better place for your verbal malice…?

And I’m not just singling out social media warriors and water cooler prophets here. Media personalities, pundits, senators, representatives, and retired military leaders have used language on national television, radio, and the internet recent days that is inconsistent with the esteem those positions (should) warrant. And the men who hold high places…

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 6

Miles: 157

Climbing: 6,900’

Mph Avg: 15.0

Calories: 8,900

Seat Time: 10 hours 25 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Mari Boine. Enjoy…

The Wolves…

Last week, the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on earth, Los Lobos, released their most recent album. Of course when I call them the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, that’s just my way of saying that I have a great deal of appreciation for them.

Native Sons, their 18th album, is a collection of songs covering California artists who influenced their musical sensibilities early in their career. Over the last several months, Los Lobos released bits of the new album on YouTube. I liked what I heard, but was looking forward to putting the CD in my car stereo and taking it for a drive. Last Saturday I got to do that.

I can’t say that this is their best album, but it’s certainly well-made and it didn’t disappoint. Perhaps time will prove it to be a top three or four album of theirs for me. In recent years, artists I’ve appreciated for decades such as James McMurtry, Cornershop, and The Waterboys have delivered albums I’ve enjoyed, but consider subpar. Native Sons is far better than that. 

The intentions behind this album can be felt immediately. The care that went into recording it is evident right away. Singer, David Hildalgo, who has a history of clunker vocals both live and on their recordings, is smooth on each of his vocal tracks. The recording fidelity is excellent — better than any of their previous albums. There’s ample space between the sounds, and the instrumentation and vocals are crisp and distinct. 

Something the band attempted to do on this album was be true to the original song, but also put their own signature on each. That’s no easy task. Very often with covers, a band will try to duplicate the original song or take it in another direction altogether. Los Lobos walked a fine line and definitely achieved what they set out to do. Each track is true to the original, but there’s no doubt who’s performing it.

The song selection took me by surprise, but in a good way. Several of the songs are rock standards that I knew word-for-word, while others are songs I’m scarcely familiar with. 

Bluebird (Buffalo Springfield) and Sail On Sailor (Beach Boys) are standouts for me. Again, true to the originals, but no doubt the guys from East LA are at the helm. Where Lovers Go (The Jaguars) takes me back to a simpler era of music — one that took place while I was still a toddler, and is probably my favorite song on the album — for now.  

The musicianship, as always, is stellar. Hidalgo is one of the great guitar players nobody talks about. He demonstrates his usual outstanding playing throughout the album, but it’s kept a bit further back in the mix on most songs. However, on The World Is A Ghetto (WAR), Hidalgo’s guitar playing is prominent, precise, and clean. Cesar Rosas’ vocals and guitar work throughout the album are as good as ever. Louie Pérez sings, plays guitars, and adds some percussion. 

Pérez, the original drummer for the band, gives up the kit on this album for David Hidalgo Jr. (Social Distortion) and Jason Lozano, who play superbly on their respective tracks. Steve Berlin (Saxophone) and Conrad Lozano (Bass) are like piecrust holding the band together. Their supporting roles are at the heart of the thing, and each gives the album a character that can’t come from anyone else.

After I listened to the album the second time, one line kept going through my head, over and over, from the movie Tender Mercies, starring Robert Duvall… 

“Sing It The Way You Feel It…”

It’s evident on every track that the guys from East LA sang and played every song the way they felt it. 

Footnote: I first wrote this for my Facebook page 2-weeks ago. I’ve since listened to the CD nearly a dozen times and compared each track to the original. For my money, I’ll take the Los Lobos cover over each of the originals, including the two Buffalo Springfield songs. Yes, I said it. 

This has quickly become a top-3 album of theirs for me, just behind Kiko and The Town And The City. My standout tracks, as of this morning are, Farmer John (The Premiers) and For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield). At some point, I’m guessing every song on the CD will be my favorite, at least for a while.

This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 179

Climbing: 7,800’

Mph Avg: 15.1

Calories: 10,100

Seat Time: 11 hours 52 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band on earth, Los Lobos. Enjoy…

Here In My Mold…

I truly wonder who I am sometimes. Just as often, I wonder who I should be. I was thinking about that when I went out the other day — about whether I’m the me I’m supposed to be or if I’m actually the me I’ve created. And no, this isn’t an exercise in freshman philosophy. It’s something I think about quite a bit. I worry that I’ve invested too much of myself and given up too much of my soul in creating the character I play when people are looking — because I’m afraid to just be myself.

I wonder who I’d be if I wasn’t influenced by the expectations I think others have of me. 

I wonder who I’d be if I wasn’t influenced by entertainment — stories, music, television, and movies. 

I wonder who I might be if I wasn’t influenced by the expectations I have of myself — and I wonder further where those expectations come from.

I wonder who I’d be if I was brave enough to say what’s on my mind 100% of the time — or even 50% of the time. 

I wonder who I’d be if I put others ahead of myself more often than I do.

I wonder who I’d be if I didn’t choose play over work as often as I do. 

I wonder who I’d be if I listened to the ‘do-right’ voice in my head more than I do. 

And I don’t just wonder who I’d be on the surface, but I wonder all kinds of wonders…

I wonder if I’d sleep better.

I wonder if my financial status would be more stable.

I wonder if my social and personal relationships would be stronger.

I wonder if I’d worry less about an afterlife.

And the thing is, this goes through my head all the time. On my bike, off my bike, when I’m awake, and even when I sleep I have dreams about the influence everyone and everything outside of me has on me.

Of course, I guess that’s our mission as human beings — to absorb the good from the outside, filter out the bad, and charge-on being the best we can possibly be. Some days though, I question whether I’ve absorbed too much of the wrong things, and whether I’ve filtered out too much of what I really need. 

I just think about it all the time. All the time. 

This is what I think about when I ride…. Jhciacb 

This week by the numbers…

Bikes Ridden: 7

Miles: 180

Climbing: 5,800’

Mph Avg: 15.2

Calories: 10,200 

Seat Time: 11 hours 55 minutes

Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Richard Ashcroft. Enjoy…