And that’s why I ride

sidewalk in the autumn, greenwood village, colorado

I took this iPhone photo during my bike ride home, the other day. It was just after 5 pm.

November 4th marks the autumn time change. My ride home will require lots of lights and reflectorized everything.

But until then, I’ll enjoy the ride.

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Drawn to texture

a sea of toys at a charity shop

I love patterns.

Tha artistic side of my brain loves how zooming out on a sea of similar things creates a montage of uniformity with vast contrasts.

If you’ve looked at the masthead of this website, you’ll see a set of patterns that I found interesting. (Click on “Shiny Bits of Life” at the top. Then hit the refresh button on your web browser to see them all.)

Life is a montage of experiences and memories. They pile up and build a texture of thoughts and actions that make up who we are.


Footnote: I took this photo at a local charity shop. Sadly, these toys will mostly eventually end up in a landfill.

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Take the stairs

stairs signs

Walk right past that elevator and find the staircase.

You’ll be benefiting your health and humanity:

  1. The small break in your day will stimulate your mind to perform better when you return to your desk.
  2. Moving your body up and down those stairs will get your heart rate up and help you to live (slightly) longer.
  3. Your lungs will want more oxygen, so you’ll breathe deeper.
  4. The added stress to your legs will actually increase your bone density.
  5. Your refreshed mind and body will make you better company for your co-workers.
  6. It’s a quick and easy way to add at least a little exercise into your day.
  7. Taking those steps will help you lose weight…  a little bit is better than none!
  8. No special clothing is required.
  9. Elevators use a tremendous amount of energy. Riding solo vs. taking the stairs consumes enough energy to power your stove for three hours. (Well, I’m just making that up. But it does take a huge amount of energy to move that giant chunk of metal up and down the elevator shaft.)

 


Disclaimers:

  1. If you work in a skyscraper, this does not apply. Use your good judgment. At least you can take a few flights of stairs up and down when you need to use the necessary room.
  2. Some buildings handily lock their stairways for security purposes. (What happens when there’s a fire?)
  3. Not everyone can take stairs! But you can take a break, anyhow. Just look away from your screen for a bit.
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Be like Italy

bare floor with carpet removed

You’ve been there…

…the Italian-American restaurant with fountains, fake distressed stucco on the walls and ceramic tile roof portions inside.

It’s an imitation, just like Las Vegas imitates reality with their New York and Egyptian themed hotels.

It’s not a bad thing to bring those places to people who may never get to visit the real thing.

But let’s be genuine.


My office building has been undergoing a renovation, mostly because flood damage meant they had to replace the carpets and baseboards anyway.

During the few days between when the old carpet was ripped up and the new carpet was laid, the bare floor was exposed. Then I saw a beautiful patchy, distressed, stucco-like pattern.

Why not leave it that way and skip the carpet?

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Lost in translation

thank you card, written weirdly

Most English speakers would read this thank-you card as “TNY-HKO-AOU.”

The designer who created this lovely card was not a mother-tongue English speaker. According to the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia, traditional Chinese scripts were and are written top-to-bottom. (Nowadays, horizontal and vertical both work.)

The designer of this card was a traditional Chinese thinker.

But I have to say, the Santic Garments Weaving Co., Ltd. was very nice to include a thank-you note with the bike shorts I recently got. Bonus… the thank-you card text was bilingual (Mandarin Chinese and English).

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Why no one wants the Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

It’s ugly.

From the perspective of a Denver dweller, where Porsche SUVs are as common as hamburgers, the Tesla Model X is a fairly rare sight.

They got the proportions wrong. It’s like a beautiful Model S that was injected with way too much Play Doh.

The strange “Falcon Wing” doors are way too complicated (and apparently a bit trouble-prone).

Sorry, I’ll pass. (But starting at about $95,000, I don’t have much choice in the matter.)


Photo courtesy of Tesla.

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What is beautiful?

Dandelions are not beautiful. Or that’s what someone decided a while back.

America spends tens of millions of dollars eradicating this lovely flower from their blandly uniform green lawns.

I’m an American. My family doesn’t spend very much getting them out of our lawn, but we do prefer uniform green blandness. (I have been known to pick the little flowers and throw them in the street — not a very effective method for preventing them from returning.)

Apparently, it’s not just an American obsession. They are also considered weeds in England, Australia and Denmark — to name just a few other cultures that categorize them as a nuisance.

Even the post-flower seed blooms are amazing — uniform spheres of light fluffy helicopters, each waiting to be carried by the wind onto a neighbor’s yard. Ikea took inspiration from this stage of the plant to create their Maskros lamp.

The dandelion’s medicinal qualities are so many that one must venture to at least the third page of Google results until it’s possible to find any reference to them being weeds. (The French word is pissenlit.)

But who decided that dandelions are ugly? Maybe it’s the spiky green leaves — when the English word is translated from sort-of French, the word literally means “teeth of lions.”

Or maybe the flowers blooming so fast and growing taller than the grass around them offends people who appreciate consistency and visual homogeneity.

I vote for a law requiring that dandelions will forever be considered beautiful.

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A fork in the road

a fork sitting in the road

I recently came across a literal fork in the road.

It made me think:

  • Did it fall off the back of a pickup, after someone finished their meal and forgot to put up their silverware?
  • Did a villain throw it out their car window to cause tire damage to a random follower’s vehicle?
  • Was it part of an art project, and the artist meant to pick it up a few days later, after it got even more mangled?

What theories do you have about how this fork ended up by the side of a busy road?

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Filling my mind with good

I’ve decided to stop listening to the news.

Another day brings another crazy action by our president or news of a fresh terrorist act.

It was not doing me any good to learn of another bad thing happening.

(I’m not making this a 100% rule… I am willing to learn what’s happening, but I don’t necessarily need to know the details. And part of my job requires me to be on top of what’s up, at least locally.)

Instead, I’m trying to focus on good things:

  • When I ride my bicycle on some local trails, I benefit from the work of trails maintenance people who evened out many of the dips and jolts between concrete slabs. (See photo above.)
  • I live in a town where it’s possible to ride my bike to work.
  • There’s easy access to health care here. My daughter and son were attacked by poison oak recently, and they were able to easily get treatment. We paid cash (no insurance involved), and it was just $40 for each visit.
  • I live in a country where I can visit the church of my choice freely and not worry about government officials arresting me.
  • I have a warm and dry place to live.
  • My family is healthy (now that poison oak is almost history).
  • I have a job that I love.

I could go on. And should.


The idea of focusing on the good is not my own. I give credit to another Paul — see here.

And Austin Kleon agrees.

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Richness that comes with time

We just got back from visiting some old friends in a very remote part of Colorado. Our friends are not “older adults,” as we say in the senior living business, but old friends in the sense of our having known each other for many many years.

I first met them right after I graduated from college. And we have kept in touch since then.

Depth comes with time. We last met up four years ago, but we got right into discussions about heavy stuff that we can’t talk about with most people. We knew that the other person wouldn’t think less of the one sharing, even if we disagreed. (And we agreed on most stuff.)

I’m very thankful for friendships that last.


Photo: Ben scans the horizon from their rooftop. There were no cars and only about three houses visible, even though we could see more than 60 miles.

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