26 November 2009

I forgot how, seriously.

Tomorrow morning my six year old son and I will attend our first religious service together. It's a holiday for the Muslim world, apparently. We're in Rochester and honestly, I have not set foot in a mosque or touched my forehead to a prayer rug in maybe 12 years.. We're going to the Turkish Society of Rochester for the service, where pretty much everyone knows who I am and knew my father. There will be lots of looks and double takes from old friends of the family.. Some of whom remember a time long ago when my father took me to prayers as a child. Reis is going to be told to follow my lead tomorrow.. Little does he know that I will be copying everyone else around me. It's going to be interesting, for sure.
Happy Bayram and Thanksgiving.
Thanks for reading.
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19 November 2009

Phoenix Arizona: nice place to read about

The single most impressive thing about Phoenix Arizona is the Rental Car Terminal. Intelligent design has a special place in my heart. The thing that brought me down was the emptiness. Phoenix is a lonely city- all dressed up and waiting for a party to happen, it seems, and everyone is a no-show. The glimmering mini skyscrapers seem to be populated only by the palm trees which surround them. It's a scene out of Grand Theft Auto if I ever saw one. The boring flat landscape is made interesting with shiny hollow trophies of an era which probably ended a little after Y2K and the bottom falling out of tech stocks. I'm well aware of the mountains, canyons and natural beauty that is beyond the perfectly linear matrix of streets, and I begin to wonder if maybe that's where everyone went. Severe time limits prevented me from finding a bike to rent and from exploring the roads for hours like I wanted to. Shit, I only put 30 miles on my rental car for that matter. Phoenix has an abundance of billboards. Some one is getting very rich selling space to all the corporations who pine for your attention. I detest them, almost as much as the car dealer ads on the radio.. You know, the ones that sound like you're listening to the preview of an epic movie, followed by a fast talker who reads all the fine print of that zero down zero interest deal that ends tomorrow.. Car dealers are slime, just like billboard owners. One is engaged in noise pollution, the other in sight pollution. Way to make an ugly place uglier Phoenix! I did not turn on my car radio, for reasons I just described.. But you can't close your eyes while driving. I lied there's something else I liked about Phoenix- the Metro running up and down Central Ave is a slick set-up. There's even a car where bicyclists can hang their bikes from the ceiling- a nice touch but one which I can't understand. The climate is near perfect and the roads are perfectly smooth and flat. Why bother jumping on a tram when you're already on your bike in the first place?
The Convention Center is a LEED Silver certified building which is respectable.. LEED and Green construction practices were frequent topics discussed at the trade show I attended in Phoenix. A speaker in one of the workshops I attended said something pretty dramatic:
"In 20 years, 1/3 of the jobs available today will be gone, and 1/2 of them will be replaced by Green-collar jobs". My profession engages me in the construction and renovation of high performance green schools. This is stuff I care about. Furnishing $5 million hi-rise condos on Beacon Street with expensive and exotic woodwork does not turn my crank. Furnishing a public educational facility with responsibly forested, locally harvested and low VOC emitting woodwork, does interest me, immensely.
I will board my flight here in Detroit shortly. My new Blackberry 8900 is junk- I'm trading up to a BOLD. Time to play some Word Mole. Thanks for reading.

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11 November 2009

My bike commute just increased 300%

New job, different bike commute. For the past five years I was lucky to have an 8 mile bike ride to work. (I used to take the long way home of course..) Now my bike commute is 26 miles each way and I fear that it may be a bit too much, especially in the mornings. This is going to be hard to do more than once a week. I need to leave the house at 6:00 am in order to get there at a reasonable hour, and the logistics of clean clothing, grooming failures and odor control really make it harder than you might think. I rode this route home tonight for the first time and noticed that it was always a very gradual downhill with a tailwind, going north to south. Tomorrow morning it will be colder, it will be uphill and it will be into the wind. What better way to start the day than with a challenging 90 minutes of straining yourself while a backpack humps your torso and every driver acts like they wish you were dead? It will be a relief to reach the bike path tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Gewilli's commute is what, 3 miles? with an over-population of phreds whose primary training goal each year is to avoid being passed by anyone on the bike path? the East Bay bike path is narrow, bumpy, covered in bird shit, and always smells like low tide..The Blackstone Bike Path is stunning. I've seen all five paths in Rhode Island and Blackstone is by far the most scenic, interesting, and beautiful of them all. Thanks for reading.

08 November 2009

Conformance

If you told me 10 years ago that I would one day break down and buy a "Christmas" tree I would have made a face indicating that I smell cabbage.. "That's blasphemous" might have been my reply. Now looking back upon 38 years of deprival of one of the most cherished and fundamental American traditions ever known, all I can really take credit for is saving some time and some money. "We don't celebrate Christmas" is not a compelling enough reason for a six year old boy to accept. Christmas is a holiday of glittery sparkly pine scented money spending gift giving wholesomeness and nothing more. Am I religious enough to believe that I will get onto G-d's shit-list for participating in such a pagan ritual? Well maybe so.. caulk it up there with my occasional drinking, pork consumption, gambling, complete and total failure to ever pray five times a day, or fast, or set foot in a mosque for the past 15 years, or give 1/40th of my income to charity.. and the act of buying a Christmas tree begins to seem like the most religious and good thing which the Angel on my right shoulder has ever recorded in my little book of Good Deeds.