Monday, April 30, 2007

Riding On Bikes with Boys

Remember how great it felt as a kid to ride your bike everywhere? You could cruise around your neighborhood or head to the local convenience store for candy or hot chocolate. That used to be me, but not so much lately. "Lately" as in the last, oh, 12 years or so, thanks to some medical problems.

In the Boston area, which has a lot of serious bikers, including my friend Michele, I'm late to the party. Nevertheless, as part of my new "exercise or else" program (courtesy of my doctor), I've gotten back into cycling. My old bike (a Trek from the late '80s) is still in pretty good shape, but my husband bought me a new bike from LL Bean (a Schwinn, but with the ever-lovin' Bean lifetime warranty--woohoo!) to encourage me in my biking endeavors. And fortunately, you know what they say about riding a bike, and it's largely true, thank goodness. (The same is NOT true for roller skating, btw. You CAN forget how to skate.)

Jim has become a hardcore biker in the last several weeks, a change brought on by his desire to bike to his new job in Cambridge at least part of the way each day. (The rest being covered by T and feet.) Although he's still riding his old Trek (a less theft-worthy target at the T), we're talking fenders, lights, poncho, dry bag for his work clothes, baskets, a Kryptonite lock--the whole nine yards. In typical male fashion, if there's a gadget or attachment, he'll take it. For me, my main concern was a comfier saddle, so after testing out a few possibilities, I now have a nice wide seat (for my nice wide seat, heh). The better seat has made an "oh god I have to exercise" ordeal into a "hey, if we go out NOW we can beat the rain!" hobby.

So for the last few weeks, as the weather has warmed up, we've been trying to get out somewhere at least once a weekend (mainly the Minuteman Trail, AKA "America's Most Celebrated Bike Path," but also down near Plymouth), usually with our son. Yesterday, Jim and I (sans The Boy, who was occupied elsewhere with friends) rode to the Bedford Whole Foods (about 11 miles round trip). I have to admit, I'm proud of my generally out-of-shape self making the journey with only a couple of stops along the way. Partly it's because I've been exercising more, but I also give credit to the fact that I no longer try to climb elevations in third. Ain't gonna work, people--must. down. shift. (Growing up in one of the flattest places in America--Virginia Beach--doesn't make you an expert in using those 21 gears. Pretty much one gear will do down there.)

Of course, there's the whole, virtuous "I didn't take my car to the grocery store--I came by bike!" thing. Naturally, Jim burst my bubble by adding, "So of course we probably bought produce flown in on a jumbo jet from Chile." (To which I say, "Um...what's your point?")

I know this will sound corny, but after living in the Boston 'burbs for five years now, all of a sudden I'm literally seeing things I never saw before--meadows, woods, cool neighborhoods and old shacks, athletic fields--that you can't see unless you're on one of the trails. And in Lexington, there's a really good candy store, too. So I might be late to the party, but I'll be bringing great refreshments.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

My 2nd Anniversary!

Two years ago today I started this blog. Which of these suggestions should I treat myself to? Any and all suggestions welcome!

Oh, and thanks to those of you kind enough to read my musings--I couldn't have done it without you! (And for the number crunchers among us, this is my 355th post--wow.)

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

That Was My Dorm, Too

This is not what I intended to write this week. I went to Virginia Beach with my son during the Massachusetts spring break to visit my parents and brother. I haven't been back in a few years. This post was supposed to be about how the weather wasn't great, but it was nice to see my family (close and extended, plus friends), eat cheap clams on the halfshell, fly kites on the beach, and finally get a good day on our last full day there (yesterday). That was all true.

But this wasn't a normal week of any kind. Many of you know that I attended Virginia Tech--a proud Hokie who still wears her college ring, more than two decades later. I met my husband there. I love the beautiful campus, love the school, loved my four years. What happened this week touched me very deeply--not just because of the sheer horror of it, but also because of the weird closeness to my own life. I lived for three years in West Ambler Johnston (first the third floor, then the fourth, where the first killings occurred). Norris Hall is where my husband--an engineering science and mechanics major--took many of his classes.

The terrible events that happened this week caused immense shock and grief for many more than just those with a direct connection to the school. The outpouring of support from across the country has been heartening. Thanks to all of you who paused a moment--or many moments--to remember the students and teachers who thought they were facing just another morning in class that day.

Soon, we'll get on with the business of debating gun control and dealing with mentally ill students and deciding whether or not the school administration handled the situation correctly and on and on.

But for now, I'll just remember--that was my dorm, too. That was my school, too. And it still is.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Matter of Control in Manchester

It's always the way: Just when you go to the bathroom, either the phone rings or someone knocks on your door. Or a guy decides he really needs to land his plane:
Two Southwest Airlines flights were forced to circle Manchester-Boston Regional Airport last Friday when the lone air traffic controller had to go to the bathroom.

Federal Aviation Administration officials said another controller was in the tower at the time but was not certified to land the planes, forcing flights from Chicago and Orlando, Fla., to delay their landings by 18 minutes. In addition, a medical flight carrying lungs to a New Jersey airport had its takeoff delayed by what FAA log books referred to as a bathroom break.

Jim Peters, an FAA spokesman, said that the controller followed proper protocols by waiting until traffic was light. Earlier in his shift, the controller handled 60 aircraft operations and put off a break until he had two planes in the air, which were placed in a holding pattern.
I know what you're thinking, but don't blame the controller. Note, in fact, that he held it as long as possible (and haven't we all done that at some point?). In fact, the article goes on to say that the real problem is a shortage of controllers, not this man's performance. (I personally think controllers are cool.)

I'm just grateful that when I slip out for a moment of, eh-hem, "me time," that it doesn't make the national news.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Deval and Ira: Separated at Birth?

Maybe it's just me, but have you ever noticed how much Gov. Deval Patrick and NPR's Ira Glass (host of This American Life) sound alike on radio? Once you realize what they're talking about--Glass rarely, if ever, discusses state-wide healthcare for Massachusetts; Patrick rarely, if ever, talks about the allure of the mean friend (one of my favorite TAL eps)--you can tell them apart.

But for those first few seconds, I'm always caught off-guard. Must be the Chicago connection. (Yes, I know Glass wasn't born there--he's from Baltimore--but I also know from living out West for several years how you can adopt the native accent with little effort.) Maybe Glass should have the governor on his show and see if listeners have trouble telling them apart. They could call the episode "The Allure of the Vocal Doppelganger."

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