Car fun

BMW i3Two of my kids recently joined me for a fun day at the Den­ver Auto Show. Even though Rachel may not be con­sid­ered a typ­i­cal car fan, she loved our time together. Part of the appeal for her was free pro­mo­tional stuff. Car2Go (https://www NULL.car2go NULL.com/en/austin/) gave her lip balm, Scion pro­vided head­phones, and we shared the Visa gift card I got for test dri­ving a new Lin­coln crossover (http://www NULL.lin­coln NULL.com/crossovers/mkc/reveal/). (I was sur­prised at how much I liked the small SUV.)

We enjoyed push­ing but­tons and see­ing and feel­ing the design of cars I had only expe­ri­enced through mag­a­zines and web­sites. There is a lot to be said for real life com­pared to pho­tos. Even though Ben dis­agreed with me, Jaguar’s inte­ri­ors seemed to have no where near the qual­ity com­pared to BMW or Mer­cedes. And Maserati’s rich design details showed a depth of emo­tion that Ger­man cars can’t touch. Though own­ing such cars will never be part of my life, I appre­ci­ate the beauty and tech­nol­ogy they rep­re­sent. (The photo shown is the BMW i3, a new elec­tric car. BMW was kind enough to let the pub­lic expe­ri­ence the inte­rior, though the car is not yet for sale.)

So go to the near­est car show. Even if you’re not a “car per­son,” you might enjoy a no-pressure test drive of a car you would never buy.

Sketches from Church

This is a guest post by Chris Thomas (http://light-green NULL.blogspot NULL.com/), for your enjoy­ment. (Thanks Chris!)

A sketch by my friend ArturoI was not plan­ning on going to church today. I was instead going to do my taxes. You know, “Give to Caeser...” and all that busi­ness, so skip­ping seemed bib­li­cally jus­ti­fied. But I needed to get a DVD from church, so I texted my friend, Arturo, to ask if he could pick it up for me. He texted back, “Sure,” and then pro­ceeded to send me pho­tos “live” from the first ser­vice. I thought it was funny that he was not only tex­ting in church, but also tak­ing can­did photos.

Just as I was think­ing that this was a new medium for him — he’s usu­ally draw­ing in his ever-present sketch book — he sent me a photo of this amaz­ing “doo­dle” (above).

When it popped up on my phone, it grabbed me imme­di­ately, like Jesus him­self say­ing, “Chris, get your butt in here!” In an instant, I knew I had to go. No time for a shower, I quickly brushed my teeth, threw on a sweat­shirt and sped across town in an attempt to make it to the sec­ond service.

I got there late and walked in with my friend, Sheryl, who was also alone. We sat together. After the ser­vice, we ran into Linda who has been hav­ing a hard time lately and needed a boost. As we shared a much appre­ci­ated laugh, TC snuck up behind me, singing “Help Me, Rhonda.” He was rav­ing over a book I had loaned him on Brian Wil­son. He’s a fel­low music lover so we shared a few moments of gid­di­ness dis­cussing the Beach Boys. Just then, Phil came up and gave my whole lit­tle gang a “group hug”. It seemed he needed to give one as much as we all needed to get one.

I can’t tell you much about the ser­mon, or the ser­vice itself for that mat­ter. But as I drove home from church, I knew for sure that Jesus was right — I was sup­posed to be there today.

Foot­note: Arturo is a mutual friend. He has helped me in other ways than by send­ing me doo­dles from church — but he has given sig­nif­i­cant input to my life, nonetheless.

One-time treasure

one-time-worthThis truck was once someone’s dream vehi­cle. They had a huge amount of pride dri­ving it off the dealer’s lot for the first time. Wash­ing the dirt away to keep it shiny clean was a joy. Show­ing the amaz­ing new fea­tures to the next-door neigh­bors was a delight.

No more.

Why did I feel com­pelled to remind you — and me — of how short plea­sure lasts? I dunno. Maybe just to say we should enjoy it while we can! We were designed for plea­sure, and if it lasted for­ever there would be no contrast.

Old cars vs. new cars

Ford Galazy 500I snapped this old beauty on the way to work a week or so ago. I love the blocky style of the mid-1960s Ford Galaxy 500. It weighs enough to stop a tank, should the dri­ver encounter one on his way to work. It has no airbags or shoul­der belts, so his safety was in his own hands.

I do love the style of old cars. But they pol­lute. The gas com­ing out of the tailpipe is sig­nif­i­cantly more pol­lut­ing than what a mod­ern car pro­duces. Paris (http://www NULL.nytimes NULL.com/2012/11/25/automobiles/old-car-owners-bristle-at-proposed-ban NULL.html?_r=0), Santa Bar­bara, Cal­i­for­nia (http://www NULL.sbcapcd NULL.org/ocbb NULL.htm) and Texas (http://www NULL.tceq NULL.texas NULL.gov/airquality/mobilesource/vim/driveclean NULL.html) all have pro­grams to take old cars off the road.

But it’s not nec­es­sar­ily an easy equa­tion. Some­times keep­ing your not-very-new car may be more envi­ron­men­tal than buy­ing a new one, because of the envi­ron­men­tal impact of man­u­fac­tur­ing a car (details (http://environment NULL.about NULL.com/od/environmentfriendlyautos/a/new_old_cars NULL.htm)).

I would totally sup­port a ban on really old cars being daily dri­vers, or maybe a tax on using them as com­muter cars. That would keep the envi­ron­ment cleaner. And the dri­vers would have less chance of get­ting in an acci­dent and ruin­ing that piece of his­tory. Addi­tion­ally, fewer dri­vers are out on the week­ends, so each drive would be more plea­sur­able. Why not cre­ate an old car shar­ing club and split which week­ends you get the old beau­ties? Then you will have some vari­ety in which ancient iron you take to the highway.

We need pain, we need variety

You go bare­foot. There are rocky, muddy, sandy and grassy sec­tions. A nature pre­serve in Bel­gium allows you to expe­ri­ence a wide vari­ety of tex­tures as you explore foot­paths in the slightly hilly park. As their web­site (http://www NULL.liete­berg NULL.be/blotevoetenpad/blotevoetenpad NULL.htm) says, you can feel the extremes of “hot and cold, moist and dry, pleas­ant, excit­ing and stimulating.”

In west­ern life, our feet are not used to feel­ing much beyond the insides of our socks, the floor, grassy lawns or sandy beaches. The Liete­berg Park allowed my vul­ner­a­ble feet to expe­ri­ence some­thing dif­fer­ent. The pain of rocky sec­tions made me appre­ci­ate the squishy mud.

bath-matAnd as I recently bought a bath­tub mat to pre­vent slips and falls, I expe­ri­enced tiny bits of pain from the soft bot­toms of my feet. The mat’s spiky plas­tic tines poked into my soles. At first, I thought of tak­ing the mat back. Then I real­ized it made my feet feel alive.

Life is like that. If we live a life of ease with no pain, we can­not truly under­stand plea­sure. And vari­ety keeps life inter­est­ing. You know this. I’m just remind­ing you — and me — that pain is OK. I also hope your life has vari­ety and some respite from pain.

The humble brag

Hum­ble brag (n) — to brag about how hum­ble you are.

I often fall into this trap. Read­ers of this blog have seen me brag about how hum­ble I am, many times. “I save money this way, so I’m bet­ter than those who don’t.” “I’m more envi­ron­men­tal than the peo­ple who drive that kind of vehicle.”

Humble-bragging is obnox­ious to any­one who detects it. And as T Bone Bur­nett sang, (“http://www NULL.metrolyrics NULL.com/trap-door-lyrics-t-bone-burnett NULL.html) “It’s a funny thing about humil­ity, As soon as you know you’re being hum­ble, You’re no longer humble.”


Hav­ing said that, let me launch into a hum­ble brag.

an entry-level bikeA recent Wall Street Jour­nal arti­cle on triathlons had a side­bar fea­tur­ing rec­om­mended equip­ment. the “entry-level” road bike was $1,449. that freaked me out a lit­tle until I real­ized that their nor­mal read­ers are in a class where that price is entry-level.

Across the page, the fea­tured moun­tain bike (http://www NULL.spe­cial­ized NULL.com/us/en/bikes/road/venge/sworks-venge-duraace-di2) cost $11,000 (with an inte­grated hydra­tion system).

My hum­ble brag: my road bike is worth a lot less than $1,449. But I know that hav­ing both a road bike and a moun­tain bike puts me into the 1%. So there goes my humility.

Matatu names

names of matatus in KenyaMata­tus are the mini­vans that trans­port peo­ple all over Kenya (and Tan­za­nia). They have some very cre­ative art­work — and names! The first time we lived in Kenya was from 1991–1994. I kept track of some of the names in a lit­tle note­book, which you can see in the photo. (Double-click the photo to see a larger ver­sion of the note­book pages.) There are some great ones, such as: Beauty Options, Bush Poucher, Texas City, and Bison Jnr.

The art­work on the sides of mata­tus (http://mypartofnairobi NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2006/06/matatu-art NULL.html ) is uniquely African — and often very cre­ative. (Do a Google image search for “matatu art.”) Matatu own­ers invest in cre­ative art­work to give a com­pet­i­tive advan­tage. Wouldn’t you rather go in a cool matatu than in one with no artwork?

The name flush

missing nameI have a great abil­ity to for­get your name imme­di­ately after you tell me. This is not good.

Why do I for­get? Maybe at a sub­con­scious level, I think I don’t need to remem­ber your name. Def­i­nitely, I am over­whelmed with keep­ing up with the flood of infor­ma­tion I need to remem­ber for work or to keep the wheels of life spin­ning. In any case, when I for­get your name, I am cheat­ing you. I am cheat­ing myself. At a very basic level, if I remem­ber your name, I am telling you that I value you. I am open­ing the door to a rela­tion­ship and am show­ing you I think you are worth get­ting to know.

Work with me on this. Let’s try to remem­ber names.

We love to be the first

trander joe's foursquare checkin screen shotI was def­i­nitely not the first cus­tomer to enter the new Cen­ten­nial Trader Joe’s (http://www NULL.trader­joes NULL.com/) on open­ing day. I also wasn’t the first one to leave with­out buy­ing any­thing, because of my impa­tience with the long check­out line.

I was the first per­son to be Foursquare Mayor — a very small — and ephemeral — thrill.

For many peo­ple in Den­ver, the arrival of three Trader Joe’s store on the same day (http://www NULL.den­ver­post NULL.com/business/ci_25140745/trader-joes-open-3-colorado-stores-friday-feb) was excit­ing news. Great food at even greater prices is worth cel­e­brat­ing. (And I did go back the next morn­ing to endure the long wait. My reward was some inex­pen­sive Sriracha, among other things.)

My ques­tion is: What makes us want to be the first to expe­ri­ence some­thing that is all the rage?

We are all weak

magic shoe insertAbout nine months ago, I started expe­ri­enc­ing pain in my left foot that just wouldn’t go away. Even­tu­ally, it reached the point where walk­ing was painful. I put up with that for at least four months. I finally remem­bered my brother had expe­ri­enced foot pain. I called him and he shared his expe­ri­ence of plan­tar fasci­itis (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Plantar_fasciitis). Then I sought treat­ment, which meant a visit to a local foot pain spe­cial­ist (http://www NULL.foot­so­lu­tions NULL.com/).

Com­plete heal­ing came within about two months. Aaah! The dif­fer­ence has been dra­matic. (Part of the solu­tion was using the shoe inserts you see in this photo, and part of the solu­tion was doing reg­u­lar stretches for my foot muscles.)

The point of my lit­tle story is not to tell you where to go if you have foot pain, but rather to remind you to reach out to some­one if you have a prob­lem! Don’t wait. You may find an end to your mis­ery a lot sooner than you imagine.

It may have been pride or sim­ply lazi­ness that pre­vented me from call­ing my brother. But if I had known that pain relief was within reach, I would have called much sooner. Please call some­one you know who might be able to help with your prob­lem. Even if they don’t know a solu­tion, they may know some­one who does.