How to ride a bicycle

Three sim­ple things can make your bike rid­ing much safer and easier:

  1. bike-tip-1Take the palm of your hand and hit the front of your bicy­cle hel­met. If it goes up more than one inch, you need to tighten the strap. Oth­er­wise, if you wreck and land on the front of your hel­met, you won’t land on the front of your hemet — you’ll land on the front of your head.
  2. bike-tip-2Spin your ped­als between 60–90 rev­o­lu­tions per minute. If you are not ped­al­ing that fast, you are hurt­ing your knees and reduc­ing your effi­ciency. All you need to do is select a lower gear. If you don’t want to time your­self, here’s a 5-second video (https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=4nnzx8buWrs) that shows about how fast that is. No need to be too strict about this. — it’s fine to pedal slower part of the time.
  3. bike-tip-3Lis­ten to your chain. If it’s squeal­ing, it’s not happy. You need to give it some lubri­ca­tion. The best kinds I’ve found are teflon-based lubes, such as this one (http://www NULL.ama­zon NULL.com/Finish-Line-Bicycle-4-Ounce-Squeeze/dp/B002IDZXRM/). They last fairly long and do not attract too much dirt.

Slower than Anything

road construction This is a guest post by my brother, Bill Mer­rill. Thanks Bill!

For most of my life, when I wanted to say how slow some­thing was, I’d use one of the stan­dard phrase “slower than molasses in Jan­u­ary.” In recent years, I’ve switched over to “slower than high­way con­struc­tion.” Accord­ing to our friend the inter­net, the US fed­eral gov­ern­ment cur­rently spends about $40 bil­lion on our road­ways each year, an amount that has steadily increased through­out the years, even in current-year dol­lars. In my own expe­ri­ence, it hardly seems I can drive any­where in any big city with­out encoun­ter­ing one con­struc­tion project or other. (By the way, this was NOT the case in my vaca­tion a cou­ple of months ago in the Benelux coun­tries of Europe.)

It’s not just that progress is so soooo slow on these projects — the aver­age length of a project here seems to be about seven years — but also that there are many times when I drive by the con­struc­tion site and noth­ing is hap­pen­ing at all. There is a turn-around on a free­way over­pass near my credit union branch that’s been under­way for about a year now, and I won­der why it’s not fin­ished yet. Most times lately when I pass the turn-around, con­struc­tion equip­ment sits idle, no sign of life any­where. This can be frus­trat­ing, but I try to be mature about things like this, and not let my frus­tra­tion turn into unpro­duc­tive, use­less anger.

I’m not in the high­way con­struc­tion busi­ness, but I had enough indi­rect con­tact with it ear­lier in my pro­fes­sional life that I sus­pect this kind of sit­u­a­tion is a result of sched­ul­ing issues, or maybe bud­getary con­sid­er­a­tions. The par­tic­u­lar turn-around in ques­tion is part of a much larger high­way project, so maybe the turn-around is on hold until some con­nect­ing piece of the project is fin­ished. And it is cer­tainly not the work­ers’ fault, so it would be totally unfair to be hos­tile toward them in any way.

(By the way, turn-arounds are really won­der­ful things, allow­ing vehi­cles going from an access road to its opposite-direction coun­ter­part to avoid wait­ing through traf­fic lights! They don’t exist every­where, but they should!)

Editor’s notes: 1) Col­orado does not have those turn-arounds, and we wish they did! 2) Bill took the photo at the road con­struc­tion site men­tioned in this post.

It is OK to just look

Sole of Converse sneaker with clear rubberNord­strom Rack is a great place to get qual­ity clothes for some­times way less than list price.

Even bet­ter than buy­ing stuff from there is to just enjoy it — at least in the case of shoes. I love shoes but don’t need any. So as we were shop­ping for some dreadfully-needed run­ning shoes for Rachel (our daugh­ter), I enjoyed just look­ing at other shoes.

I loved this par­tic­u­lar Con­verse model — clear rub­ber with the logo embed­ded under­neath. Way cool.

And even bet­ter than just look­ing was cap­tur­ing it dig­i­tally — for my grand­kids someday.

Treat your body like...

...it belongs to some­one you love.

treat-your-body-well

Self-destructive behav­iors abound. (And I’m far from per­fect.) But I love this say­ing — how often do we treat our bod­ies like we love our­selves? Even more impor­tant, how often do we treat oth­ers bet­ter than our­selves? (See here. (https://www NULL.bible­gate­way NULL.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A3&version=NLT))

If we truly fol­lowed that say­ing, would we shop at Whole Foods to pick up food for that home­less per­son we see on the cor­ner on our way to the office?

(Thanks to Whole Foods (http://www NULL.whole­foods­mar­ket NULL.com/) for their store-window poster.)

The problem of where they should live

aspen-airportPlaces like Aspen and Breck­en­ridge have a prob­lem: peo­ple who work there can’t live any­where close.

Jonathan Thomp­son wrote an arti­cle about this in The Den­ver Post (link (http://www NULL.den­ver­post NULL.com/perspective/ci_28170119/when-living-where-you-work-is-out-reach)). He out­lines the prob­lem far bet­ter than I can — and backs it up with good research.

But Jonathan did not pro­pose any solu­tions. I will.

Part-time res­i­dents in such places should pay a tax to build afford­able hous­ing in close prox­im­ity. That tax should be based on the amount of time they don’t live there. In other words, if some­one lives in their vaca­tion home just three week­ends a year, their tax would be higher than some­one who lives there year-round. Or than some­one who rents out their vaca­tion home dur­ing the time they’re not there.


I know this is the kind of post that many read and take issue with. I’m turn­ing off com­ments for this post only, as it’s one of those things where if you believe dif­fer­ently, I can’t con­vince you of my point — and vice-versa.

p.s. I love Aspen. And Breck­en­ridge. And their com­pe­ti­tion. I took the photo above dur­ing a brief visit in 2007. That’s the air­port just out­side Aspen, which has a greater den­sity of Lear­jets than any other air­port in the USA. (That is not a sta­tis­tic I can back up.)

Shift it yourself

manual shifting jaguar roadsterA shift has been under way for years in auto­mo­tive cul­ture — the move from man­ual trans­mis­sions to automatics.

At the Den­ver Auto Show, Jaguar was so proud of offer­ing a car with a man­ual trans­mis­sion that they plas­tered that fact on the door.

I made the shift myself about five years ago. I used to love man­ual trans­mis­sions. The old story was that you could squeeze more per­for­mance and fuel econ­omy out of your vehi­cle with a man­ual trans­mis­sion. Now it’s the oppo­site for many newer vehicles.

And there’s the draw­back of the pain of shift­ing in stop-and-go traf­fic. My last two years in Nairobi, Kenya taught me that it’s no fun to keep shift­ing over and over in heavy traf­fic (http://mypartofnairobi NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2006/06/traffic-traffic-traffic NULL.html). I almost vowed to never get a man­ual trans­mis­sion again.

Then again, if some­one offered me a new Mazda Miata (http://www NULL.longlivetheroad­ster NULL.com/#photos-videos) with a man­ual for free, I would not turn them down.


Tip: One way to save fuel with an auto­matic trans­mis­sion is to pop it into neu­tral while going down a mild hill. (Use this tip at your own risk. Results may vary. Some users have been known to have increased blood pressure.)

What kind of light are you letting into your life?

tilesThe tiles in our bath­room change in color and shadow depth dur­ing the course of every day. In the same way, my mood changes, depend­ing on what is hap­pen­ing out­side of me.

My mood some­times changes due to inside forces. I let my response to events drag me down. Other times, I am in a strong place and am almost immune to dif­fi­cult situations.

But inside is affected by out­side. The voices I allow myself to hear affect the way I deal with life. If I’m always lis­ten­ing to neg­a­tiv­ity, I will tend to be neg­a­tive. Pos­i­tiv­ity leads to being positive.

But false mes­sages of either type never have a good effect. Truth is always the best thing, even if it hurts. (How­ever, we do not always need to tell every­one everything.)

Who are you lis­ten­ing to today?

Apple Watch review

Apple Watch on my wristNo, I don’t have one.

Yes, that’s my wrist that the Watch is sit­ting on.

So this is not a super-deep review, since I do not own one. But I will give you some first impres­sions, hav­ing spent about 90 min­utes in an intro­duc­tory work­shop at my local Apple Store, play­ing with one and try­ing sev­eral on.

Here are my ini­tial thoughts:

  • They’re nice. The feel and work­man­ship is as you might expect: top-notch. The vibra­tions that tell you things are not annoy­ing. If you had your set­tings at a level where you were get­ting taps more than once an hour, you might start to go crazy. The inter­face is very well thought out.
  • Costs: The $349* price of entry (Sport model) def­i­nitely makes it a lux­ury item. And then your style choices are lim­ited to the color of your watch (sil­ver or black) and the color of your Sport band. If you want more choices, you have to spend $549 for the Watch (mid­dle) model that lets you have a lot more  band choices.
  • Pre­tense: They can be less vis­i­ble than the old Apple white head­phones that told every­one you had an iPhone or an iPod. If you know what they look like, you can start to think about who has them and imag­ine their bud­gets. (I was amazed at the mom with her two teenagers who were part of my work­shop. The kids already both had Watches. When I asked why he got one, the boy said, “I just wanted one.”)
  • Bands: The Milanese Loop was amaz­ing for its sim­plic­ity and ease of use (add $100). The leather bands (add $100 or $200) seemed like step back­wards from the syn­thetic sport band. The Link Bracelet (add $400) was incred­i­ble. You can size it with­out going to a jew­eler. Hav­ing said all that, the only style I’d con­sider would be the Sport band (black case with black band, prob­a­bly). The oth­ers are just a lit­tle too glitzy for me.
  • Sizes: My wrists are tiny. The only one that would work for me would be the 38mm. The 42mm does have a lit­tle more breath­ing room for view­ing the screen, but it costs $50 more. (Casey Nei­s­tat described them as “girl size” and “boy size.” I disagree.)
  • Apps: Fit­ness seems to be the big one. If you aren’t inter­ested in track­ing your fit­ness, noti­fi­ca­tions for email and texts would be a big use, though habit­u­ally look­ing at your wrist might be just as annoy­ing to oth­ers as habit­u­ally look­ing at your phone. (A whole new level of, “I’m not pay­ing atten­tion to you,” might start becom­ing wide­spread.) Phone calls seem to be so lim­ited, due to issues like low audio vol­ume, that I can’t imag­ine many peo­ple doing calls more than a few sec­onds through their Watch. Maps are lim­ited but could be use­ful after you get used to the tiny inter­face. Music means pretty much a remote-control for your iTunes or Pan­dora. Pho­tos: The max­i­mum size for a photo is so small that I wouldn’t be spend­ing much time with that one. And any library of more than about 100 pho­tos prob­a­bly means a hard time ever find­ing the photo you want to show some­one. Oh yeah, and there’s the watch part. It’s super-easy to change its time-telling face between a vari­ety of cool time-keepers... and then mod­ify each one.
  • Teth­er­ing to your iPhone: A lot of peo­ple have hugely com­plained about this aspect. I don’t see it as any big deal, since my iPhone is always in my pocket, unless I’m at my desk or put­ter­ing around the house. And I like the idea of being away from mes­sages, so I’d feel free to leave my iPhone at home. You can lis­ten to a lim­ited music library (with blue­tooth head­phones) while you run or bike ride with­out an iPhone nearby.
  • The Edi­tion: Pay­ing $10,000+ is just absurd. It’s for peo­ple that zeros do not mat­ter. And for Den­ver res­i­dents, you’ll have to travel to Las Vegas to try one on.

Bot­tom line: Game-changer... 1) I think there are vast pos­si­bil­i­ties for how this will trans­form the way peo­ple relate to tech­nol­ogy. 2) Today’s Groupon email had fit­ness wrist­bands — and a series of Bre­itling lux­ury watches — for far less than half price. The lux­ury watch and fit­ness band mar­kets are changed for­ever. 3) Health pro­fes­sion­als are just begin­ning to imag­ine new worlds that will open up for mon­i­tor­ing and then respond­ing to health spheres.

None is on-order for me .... yet. I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out how to jus­tify the (not insignificant-to-me) expense.

* Apolo­gies to my friends out­side of the USA. You’ll need to go to your near­est Apple Store web­site to check pric­ing for your area.

For more info, visit Apple Watch on the web (http://www NULL.apple NULL.com/watch/).

Buy a pen now, to help others

writing with a Schneider penI love Schnei­der pens — the very best in the world. They’re made in Germany.

Stride (http://www NULL.strideinc NULL.com/phb/#content) is the com­pany that dis­trib­utes Schnei­der pens in the USA. Stride employs peo­ple with intel­lec­tual and phys­i­cal chal­lenges – allow­ing these indi­vid­u­als to learn and grow in a work­ing envi­ron­ment that is full of love and acceptance.

You can read the sto­ries of Peter (http://www NULL.strideinc NULL.com/phb/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Packed-by-Peter-and-the-Stride-Story-2013-rev7 NULL.pdf), Vic­tor (http://www NULL.strideinc NULL.com/phb/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Packed-by-Victor-and-the-Stride-Story-2013-rev7 NULL.pdf) and Vaden (http://www NULL.strideinc NULL.com/phb/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Packed-by-Vaden-and-Stride-Story-2013-rev7 NULL.pdf) to see what a dif­fer­ence Stride has made in each of their lives.

Stride dis­trib­utes pens and doesn’t sell them directly to con­sumers. But you can buy them at Office Depot or Office Max. Until May 9th, Schnei­der pens are on sale for 30% off. And here’s where the story gets inter­est­ing – Office Depot/Max is hav­ing the sale to test the mar­ket. If Schnei­der pens don’t sell well, they will stop sell­ing them after the sale. So if you go out NOW and buy some of these amaz­ing pens, you will help the team at Stride.

If you pre­fer porous-tip pens (what used to be called “felt-tip”) or gel pens, Schnei­der has those also. And they’re excellent.

Ask the Office Depot/Max sales staff to help you find them – the Schnei­der pens may be tucked away in a back corner.

And then go back home to write a real let­ter, by hand, to some­one who could use a lit­tle extra love and acceptance.

- -

Reg­u­lar read­ers will have heard me talk about Schnei­der pens and Stride before. But I thought every­one should know about this sale!