September 30, 2005
Forming Partnerships and Cooperatives
We cannot do everything by ourselves. This is a message for everyone. A message for myself. A warning to heed. A ray of hope in the world. I cannot do everything myself, nor should I. Each of us has something to contribute to this world. Each of us has a part in it. Collaboration and cooperation is not only a tool, but a necessity. Together we can do so much more and lighten the load for everyone.
I am investing myself and my resources in a cooperative effort. The cooperative ideal is that everyone benefits and there is less duplication of efforts. As I progress along these lines, I am trying to strengthen and build relationships with other people and organizations to everyone's benefit. Today I talked to a friend who is really interested in helping me with community outreach and building relationships with different groups to mutually benefit each other. He's enthusiastic about the idea of arranging some collaborative efforts. The possibilities are endless. He will be coming on board the bike ship soon. That is hope. I am getting excited as the bike shop gets reorganized, volunteers are helping out on Monday nights and Wednesday nights, and new people are plugging holes in the bow. The ship may be in rough waters, but I can tell it's not going to sink just yet. Two more weeks and we'll know whether we've made it through the shoals safely.
I know this sounds kind of cryptic, but it's fun using the ship metaphor for the bike shop. I'll call it the bike ship instead. haha. We still need a treasurer and a membership coordinator and a volunteer coordinator and a few other key people, but we'll get there. I am so happy and thankful for Tom, Sam, Andy, Nate and everyone else who has stepped up to find some way to help. And this is really a good community builder so everything we do is a good thing for society. Tomorrow I'll be at the bike shop all day, FINISHING the major part of the reorganization! It is looking so good right now.
During the Art Crawl we are going to have an open house at the Depot to build more community and share in our good fortune at being alive and getting people onto bikes. October 14th and 15th. http://www.artcrawl.org This is a cool event anyways, so you should all go see the art and meet the artists in their studios. Mark your calendars now.
September 29, 2005
You can read my mind
One thing that is interesting to me is how we as human beings tend to see things from our own point of view. Imagine that! Each person sees other people only from their own perspective.
That leads me to tonight. After work, I spent all evening at the bike shop again. I was mostly listening, talking and working on small things until the others left, then I was a whirlwind of organizing. At different times several people made assumptions about why I was doing what I was doing and those assumptions were not accurate. I admit that overall I may be too little, too late for what has to be done, but it's a good use of my time.
I am really an open book and if someone is really looking at me instead of their own motives and ambitions, they could read my mind.
September 28, 2005
The only way to be a great runner is to run
I saw this ad in a magazine for runners. I think itís a great saying, but taking that one step further we can basically say that the only way to be a runner is to run. That seems obvious, but the implications are huge. This is a good parallel to other aspects of our lives besides fitness activities. In order to be a Christian we have to be Christ-like. In order to be buddhist we have to be Buddha-like. In order to be a compassionate person, we actually have to be compassionate. Words just donít cut it. Plenty of people know all the lines and know all the rhetoric, but donít practice what they preach. Off and on in my life, I have been just as guilty of being all talk and no show. Isnít what we expect in other people to actually be what they profess to be? If someone professes to be a good person, well, theyíd better not turn out to be a rotten soul.
In order to be a doctor, I actually have to go through the right schooling, get the right degree and be certified a doctor. I canít just pretend to be a doctor. We can point fingers at the world and state the blame, but if we arenít part of the solution we arenít living. We might as well be dead.
The only way to be a great human being is to be human. The only way for good deeds to get done is for someone to do them. Do good, be a great runner of life!
September 27, 2005
Two more eggs
It's like the chicken that layed the golden egg. You just can't rush some things. After dinner my daughter and I worked on Ukranian Easter eggs again and I completed two more. At this rate I won't have very many eggs by the time the Art Crawl arrives. Then I have to think about presentation and how to make them stand out.
Two of the greatest experiences in dying these eggs: When the wax is removed to reveal the colorful, beautiful egg, and while working on them, talking with my daughter. Four hours is a long time to have her with me, talking about whatever comes to mind. It's a great bonding experience. I am so lucky. I love my daughter. She is such a nice, warm, funny person and is very creative with her designs.
Two more eggs means more opportunity to be thankful for life.
September 26, 2005
What makes volunteers do what they do? Volunteers do a lot in this country and this world. I believe it's a way to give back to our fellow human beings. To me the motivation to volunteer comes from a desire to use my gifts, talents and resources to benefit others. I'm trying. I don't always do a great job of it, but I am trying.
Tonight there were six volunteers (and a seventh one waiting for a bike to be fixed) in the bike shop. The volunteers were helping me with the reorganization and cleaning by sorting parts into bins. It's a huge job and I'm thankful for the help. The seventh person was a lady who buys bikes and gives them to kids and adults that she teaches english to. Why is she doing it? Because these bikes really help these immigrants survive in this society. It turns out that bikes are reliable, cheap transportation! haha.
They will wear you out
Someone who knows me very little made an "observation" the other day about my activities at the bike shop. He said, "They will wear you out." I joked about it with him, then kept doing what I was doing. His meaning sunk in later. He's mentioned several times to me to pace myself so I don't burn out. I think his intentions are good and he's trying to be helpful, but in this case his observations are not observations but a lack of true understanding...
First of all, let's look at the meaning of the phrase, "They will wear you out." The [wear you out] portion of the sentence is pretty obvious. He thinks that somehow this kind of work makes me tired. In truth it's energizing. The more good work I do, the more I want to do. I have my limits, true, but attitude goes much further than physical and time limitations. And I'm not trying to do it myself. This brings us to the beginning of the phrase, [They], which implies that someone else is doing this to me. This is where many people lose hope in life. They think someone else is doing something to us that we are not agreeing to. Sure it can happen with a particular boss or something, but we are still chosing to work there. In this case I AM the "They," he is referring to. Am "I" going to wear myself out? Quite possibly I will, but it's by choice because I believe it's a good use of my gifts, talents and resources to be involved in this right now, where I can make a difference in other people's lives. If it's by choice, I am not a victim. No-one else can wear me out or wear me down, because I am the They that will do it to myself. Got it?
There is more. Sometime soon I will talk about 'Chains' of events that lead to other things. Sometimes a person HAS to follow a chain of events to get to some other point in their lives. It all adds up and we are exactly where we need to be. I am where I need to be right now. How can that wear me out?
September 25, 2005
Ukranian Easter Eggs
Today I went back to the bike depot to clean more and reorganize. It's looking much better but I kind of lost steam. Besides, I had a date with my daughter to make Pisanka, Ukranian Easter Eggs. I had to be home by four oclock in order to have enough time to do them. I got out all of the dyes, the kistka, the bee's wax, candles and some paper towels and together we began to draw on the eggs. It's interesting to note that my daughter veered away from the traditional Ukranian designs in order to do a couple of scenes with hand-drawn characters.
What are Ukranian Easter eggs? They are eggs; either chicken, duck, goose, ostrich, etc, brown or white. Brown eggs simply add a muted tone to all of the colors. The eggs are drawn on first, then using the kistka, beeswax is drawn on the egg in a pattern. The egg follows this process: Draw more lines on the egg with wax, dip the egg in the dye, wax over some more spots, then dye again. Repeat this process going from light colors to dark colors.
Traditionally the eggs mostly ended up with a black background, but I've seen hundreds of eggs that have some kind of veriation to that. At the end of the process the wax is melted off to reveal the colorful egg. The whole process takes about 4 hours. We each decorated two eggs. I did similar designs so that did cut my time down considerably.
We are setting up a display in the Ren Box for the Art Crawl in a few weeks so it's going to be a challenge getting enough of them done in such a short time. Guess what I'll be doing this week almost every evening? Yes. I need to do about 10 to 15 more eggs before October 15. It'll all work out ok. The main thing in my opinion is the chance to do some artwork with my daughter. I don't care what the end results are. The process has been great so far. The next few weeks will be very good I think.
Last night I finished two eggs completely. Tuesday night we are doing it again. I learned how to do these the traditional way using a handmade tool and candle from a very nice old Ukrainian woman who was teaching me Russian. Except I now blow the eggs out after they are decorated so they don't have a chance to explode, sending everyone running from the house. It can take years for an egg to dry out inside and many of my eggs were destroyed during the heat of the summer. Here is a photo of some of the first eggs I created years ago...
September 24, 2005
Do the Jalapeno Hustle!
This morning I ran the "West Fest 5K Jalapeno Hustle", around Cherokee Park in St. Paul. That was a fun run. Official results are not posted yet, but I think I did about 22 minutes for 5K. The 5K race I did last January was 23:38 so I think I improved a little. We'll see when they finally post the results from today's race. I was a little out of breath when I crossed the finish line and am not sure if I was reading the numbers right, haha.
Now after standing on my feet all day rearranging the bike shop my legs are dead tired. I was planning on doing the cyclocross race tomorrow, but I'm skipping it. It's too far away, I'm too tired, and I have to finish the job I started at the bike shop (which is almost a total rehab). I know it will be much more functional when I'm done.
Regardless. I'm exhausted now. A hard run in the morning is hard on this body.
September 23, 2005
Dee Duckwall Live
Tonight I went to see Dee Duckwall live, in person! It was really cool. And since I no longer had my copy of her CD, I bought another one. Tonight I had the pleasure of sharing her music with a friend I met downtown St. Paul at the Bike Depot. We sat there and talked and listened to the music. It was hard to talk though, because Dee is kind of captivating while she's singing. With a rolling voice, like the waves of the sea dancing and rolling around the Isle of music and magic. Her Irish folk songs were refreshing and uplifting. Tonight, between the good conversation with my friend, the good music and the beautiful weather on my walk home, my heart was bouncing and rolling like that sea. I cannot say enough good things about her music. She's also a very nice person and it looks like to me a good mom. Tonight we also had the special treat of hearing her daughter perform three songs on the violin. She's very much a captivating performer like her mom.
September 22, 2005
Thursday night in the Grease Pit
Cool. That's a good description for the Grease Pit bike shop on the West bank. The other night I met Jon from the Bedlam, which is right above the Grease Pit and he was telling me about it. So I started doing a little checking on the web, and found their website, which is a really out of date. Anyway, I found their address and went to there tonight with Dan. It was a great training ride from downtown St. Paul, out to Ft. Snelling then up the river on the west side. We came up and rode by Freewheel, another block to the Grease Pit. There were already some people waiting outside for it to open at 6pm.
I was truly amazed that such a loose organization, free and open to the public, all-volunteer run, could be so clean and organized and full of parts, bikes and people. As I was looking around and talking to people I observed a little boy fixing his flat tire. He was doing a good job. He tried several times to get it himself, then got a little help patching the tube, then he put it back on himself and pumped it up. He told me comes in there a lot and he lives close by. It was cool because he just made himself at home fixing his own bike, and he picked up his tools and put them away and cleaned up after himself. Then he wheeled his bike out and was on his way. No cash was exchanged and he did it himself.
I helped one person take off his pedals and search for a matching set to replace them and gave a little technical advice. I helped another person with a cable problem. Then a little later Chris helped the same person and she got it done right. I were several women in there fixing their own bikes and hanging out. And they put an old cassette of Prince in the tape player.
I make the proclamation that the Grease Pit people are doing good. This is a really good asset to the community. I'm going to help them more in the future. For those of you in Minneapolis, this is a great place to donate parts, bikes and other things. It's a great place to volunteer. I'm going back in two weeks to help out all night. That'll be fun. Anyone want to join me from 6-9pm at the Grease Pit, Thursday, October 6th? And then Spokes Pizza afterwords?
Viva la Grease Pit!
Oh, and thankfully Freewheel was right there, because I forgot my headlight at home and my tail light was dead. I bought a new headlight and batteries for the red blinky and was on my way home. Daylight is going fast! Riding time will all be in the dark soon I think.
September 21, 2005
We can't do it all by ourselves
I read something yesterday that was right along the lines I was thinking. The word "Community" could be read "Common" "Unity," meaning that we have to have some common base of beliefs and values to bring us together as a community. Some of those are obvious, like our belief that each human being should be free. But there are some consequences living with other human beings. There are also common problems to deal with and it's easy to step on other people's freedoms when one person takes more freedom than others. For instance if a person in your community steals from you, it's a problem. It really is a community problem because there is no 'common' 'unity' in the belief that it's ok to steal from others. Most people in the community would feel violated and betrayed by having something stolen from their house.
The other thing to note about commuty is that one person cannot do it all. One person cannot repair all the houses, stay up all night watching for that thief, mow all the lawns and sweep all the sidewalks, take care of the neighborhood park and garden, run after-school programs for the neighborhood kids, check on the elderly, etc. These are all things that it takes a community of people to do. The one thing all these people have in common is a unity in the belief that what they are doing makes their community a better place to live. If each person decides to find those common beliefs of unity and DO something toward that cause, then it's a nice place to be. If we are truthful about it, we must realize that we can't live life alone, with no other people. We are inter-dependant and what we do in our communities effects everyone else. What are we choosing to contribute? The beauty of a community is that we don't have to do it all by ourselves. If the community is falling down, we need to find that common unity again. Life, liberty, freedom, are all things we take for granted sometimes and things we deny other people when we take more than we give. Yes, sometimes we give and give and give and still there are some who will take, take, take. So how do you deal with those? Expell them from the community? Educate them on community values? I wish there was an easy answer, but we have to keep doing our part, whatever that is. We cannot do it all by ourselves, so we have to get others involved in solving the community problems. Just like we form block clubs to help watch our neighborhoods and get to know each other. That's a good start. Partnerships between neighborhood businesses and clubs and churches would be nice. Our common unity is all about joint beliefs in living a happy life. Let's work together and build a good community. This pervasive, 'every person for themselves' idea is shortsighted and leads to distrust and unrest. It tears apart communities, like the thief who steals your family heirlooms.
Every person for themselves means everyone has to do everything all by themselves. It's not practical. Ok, then start making your own clothes and building your own car and house and paving your own roads so you can drive. Yes, that's extreme but it does illustrate the point that we are not alone and can't do it all alone. We are not in this life to go it alone either. Coming together is a natural thing. But once we come together we have to work together and do our parts. Or we are not pulling our weight in the community. We are taking but not putting back.
We are all in this life together. That's a good thing. Now what kind of community can we build and maintain together? How can I contribute?
September 20, 2005
Veggie Van and other Greasecar adventures in the Land of Oil
Today I received a Zine in the mail called Adventures in the Land of Greasecars and Fireflies, by S. Scatter. In his Zine, the author talks about how he converted his diesel Volkswagen Jetta into a vegetable oil burning car. They call this biodiesel. Evidently you can buy a kit for about 800 dollars that will allow you to burn pure vegetable oil, or any other kind of oil instead of (in addition to) diesel fuel. The author gets his from fast food restuarants for free.
Check out these links:
It may not be for everyone, but it could be really cool for some people while free supplies of veggie oil last. It's cool these people are taking advantage of it.
If anyone is interested in buying this Zine, it's a good story. Send a few bucks for the Zine and postage to:
P.O. Box 18
Spring Glen, NY 12483
or order it from Microcosm publishing.
September 19, 2005
Do you know why I like you?
This one drunk guy started talking to me and said, "Do you know why I like you?" I looked at him, trying to figure out what he was going to say. He's an interesting character so one never knows. But he answered before I could respond. "Because you care more about people's feelings than what other people think about you." We'll yeah, I do care about people's feelings and no, I'm not too concerned about what other people think of me. I just keep doing my thing the best I know how. Then I had to give this guy a hug, because he wanted one. And no, he did not pickpocket me, because i don't carry anything in my pockets. But he felt better and when I left he said, "See you later. Have a good night." And I replied the same back to him. So that was the final event of the night and I'm glad he felt good about chatting with me and finding a buddy for a few minutes.
You know why I like you? Because you care about other people. Well that is one asset I feel is worth more than brains or money. The heart of it is how we treat others.
People think I'm crazy
Tonight after working at the bike shop, I went next door to the Bobo Club, where Gary was doing a little wine tasting. I tried a sip of four different wines he had, and didn't like any of them. Three of them were way too sweet for me. The other one tasted kind of tangy. Anyway, there was this guy sitting there who is a really talented graphic artist. He told me, "People think I'm crazy." He started telling me about his new philosophy of 'bartering' his services with places he hangs out. For instance, he did some advertising graphics for one coffee shop, now he gets two free latte's per day. Cool idea. Bartering is a good idea. It's a direct exchange of goods or services without the middle man (money). I know someone else that has bartered his automobile mechanical expertise for things before. He got a microwave for one job he did.
The thing is, this graphic artist made sense to me. He was a successful advertising graphic artist in chicago with his own design company until he sold his half of the company to the other partner and moved away. He told me he could make as much money as he wanted if he wanted to. But it didn't mean anything to him. Two latte's per day on his regular rounds without paying cash meant something to him. I can understand the convenience and the wisdom in this kind of deal. Both parties win. The company gets really good advertising material and the artist gets his fix and gets to be a regular somewhere.
So then I was standing there and another artist asked me if I could fix his bike. He didn't want to pay any money for it though, because he was short on cash. Since I was just talking to the graphic artist about his bartering adventures, I said, "Sure I can fix your bike. Do you want to barter for it?" He said, "Yeah that would be cool." So now I have to come up with something useful that he could exchange for bike repair services. hmmm. Maybe I could have him paint my dumpster bike, like an artbike. haha. But then it might be too nice and people would want to steal it. Maybe he could help me reorganize the shop. ;-) There's a good idea! And people think I'm crazy.
A stolen Vice Grips and a plan to reorganize
I know it happens. I was working alone tonight at the bike shop and I was distracted by a couple people that wanted to buy a bike. Meanwhile, one of the guys that was there stole a tool off the workbench and took off with it. Then someone saw him looking into cars in the parkinglot. When he realized someone outside was watching him, he took off. But in the mean time, one of our tools are missing. We are a non-profit organization and all the work I was doing tonight was free. And we have been known to help people who needed parts when they didn't have any money. All they have to do is let us know they need something. But he stole from us. Now I am forced to rearrange the furniture and block off the shop from customers so This can't happen again. Those that want to steal from us will ruin it for those that could use a little help. Well, not really, it will make it less open, but we'll still help people get their wheels rolling for a reasonable and just price. They'll just have to wait behind the counter while we do it now. I just don't have enough eyes to watch those that choose to be dishonest and take things that don't belong to them.
Tomorrow night that's where I'll be. Reorganizing the entryway. Or maybe on Wednesday night we'll do it when all the volunteers are there.
So what do we do? It's too bad, but this shop has had a lot of theft over the last year. The bikes I had locked up on the deck? Someone stole a whole back wheel from one bike and a rear derailer from another. They were cheap bikes and components too! So tool expenditures will go up and we have to use more used stock to replace stolen parts.
I'm not upset or mad at these people who do this though. They are worse off than I am and are working within the system they find themselves in. Maybe they are in that system because of the choices they've made. In any case, I can't let tool theft continue. It's a drain on our budget and harder to help people who come to get their bike fixed for a low fee.
September 18, 2005
So many ideas, but what to do?
Throughout life we have thousands of options of things to do with ourselves. To me they are all occupations of our time. We have limited time on this earth in this present form as is proven by past generations who all have done various things in life and have all died. Therefore whatever we do in this life really, logically is done before we kick the bucket. There is no prerequisite for death. We donít have to do or accomplish anything in this life in order to die. So it is.
That leads us to what we do with our limited time here. Since it is limited, it makes sense that we make the best use of our time. The best use of time is really an individual thing. Some people think our main purpose here is to serve others, or to give up everything and go spread the word of God, or to gain as much wealth as possible, or to play music in an orchestra, or to work with youth, or to create artwork, or to raise children. The list goes on. By watching the movie, Mr. Hollandís Opus, we see that sometimes we donít even realize what our purpose on earth is until after weíve struggled through it. Then if we are lucky we see the impact weíve had on this earth. What difference do we really make here? One artist friend I know feels like he has to leave a legacy that people will admire and study for years after heís gone. Many people donít want to be forgotten.
In one Star Trek the Next Generation episode, Captain Picard is zapped by a probe and while tethered to this device lives an entire lifetime on a dying planet, which in reality turned out to be only a few minutes of unconciousness in his real body on the spaceship. The people on the dying planet this program and launched a satellite in the hopes that someone in the future would be trapped by it and be forced to learn about their people, what they believed and lived for, and what they went through, all in order to not be forgotton.
So what are you doing with your life. It really is up to you. What you do with it is pure choice. What is the best use of your time? You decide this anyway, so isnít it in your best interest to think about it and try to make good choices? Most people like to have some purpose, direction and value in what they are doing. I like to make a difference in this life. I like to give to other people and feel like itís a good use of my time.
You choose what you will do anyway, and will do so until you die. My hope and prayer for every human being is that they think about it and try to do something that will add value to our human existance instead of take away from it.
We can get so wrapped up in the daily struggle to survive on this planet that we forget or donít allow ourselves to evaluate and think about our human connections and purpose. Yes, our human connections are tied to our purpose here. We are not isolated from each other in life so naturally our purpose for being alive is not isolated.
September 17, 2005
One Grain of Sand
I had the chance to glimpse the meaning of the world in a grain of sand. It was life in it's simplest form. It allowed me to see things in a new way.
Yesterday Terry gave me a word-find book, which he pulled out of the pannier bag on his bike after asking me if I liked to do word finds. I said yes without even considering that he'd GIVE me one. Now I am finding words.
September 16, 2005
Resistance is futile
How do you deal with a Bully? Some people just should not be in positions of responsibility. They are demeaning to other people, high on their own self-importance and often are very articulate and vocal about getting their way. They use intimidation, passive agressive attacks, and twist the truth of situations to their advantage. They will drive everyone else away and then complain no-one else is pulling their weight. If someone tries to point out their poor behavior, they go on the offensive and attack the intentions and motivations of the person who brings their behavior to light. A bully likes to be challenged on the same terms; It's arena combat and the victory is a power rush.
In God's eyes, it really doesn't pay to treat bullys with their own tactics. It is futile to resist on their terms. It just fuels the fight and gives them more ammunition against their opponents. A better way to deal with a Bully is to not resist but to innovate and create something new. If a bully takes your lunch, you let him take it, then make a gourmet meal and serve it to all of his friends. Haha, or something. Maybe more like, create a free meal program so he looks foolish stealing your meal.
Eventually bullies are exposed or they are seen for who they really are. We don't have to allow them to get away with it. Stay calm, stick to the facts and avoid raising your voice. They will be the only one yelling and it's a harsh light.
I am in such need of Love
I am in such need of Love
I donít need anything else.
I donít crave anything
like the Love that I have felt.
I am in such need of Love
Nothing else even comes close
and with each injection
I want an increased dose.
I am in such need of Love
Without it, cannot survive.
Though not always aware
I need Love to be alive.
I am in such need of Love
A Life of Love, never gone.
With every breath inhaled,
Iím wrapped in the Love of God.
September 15, 2005
So many things I could be doing
But Iím doing this. Because I want to. I have to explain something about my philosophy in life. The reason I got close to the bike shop was the cool idea behind it and the uniqueness of it. But the reason I joined the board of directors was not because it was such a cool, smoothly run show that I wanted to be a part of, but because it was in trouble. If there is any place that needs help, any time, then it is worth being there to work on the issues.
There are a lot of things I could be doing, but I'm not. I'm doing this because it needs to be done. Where will it lead? I'm hoping it will be really good.
September 14, 2005
Designing a Community _________ (Fill-in the blank)
I may have a whacked-out vision when I think of a Ďcommunityí something business. But I donít think so. I think it is something that is a part of the community and something that the community is a part of. When I was growing up a community business was one where the owners were local, they new everyoneís name, they sponsored and showed up to community events, they participated in the local community, they helped the local community grow and they helped the community when it was down. A community bank made loans to people who might not be able to pay it back. A community gas station kept everyoneís cars running and reminded people when their oil needed changing. A community barber knew all the guys in town and was often the first person to cut a new family memberís hair. They saved a snip of hair for the parents in an envelope. A community drug store was also the candy store and soda shop. The local people went there for their medicines and bandaids. A community business was a community business because of the community it was part of. So where are these community businesses now and how integrated are they really? Do they really care about the community they are in or just out to make money off them?
My question is how do we redesign a true community bike shop? In my view it has to remain totally non-profit and be integrated into the community so tightly that the community is the bike shop. Is that possible? I think it is. I think even though there have been problems with the one Iím involved in, it shows promise. I have been inspired by some of the things that have been done right in the past. That bike shop has provided so much cheap, basic transportation and kept people going all year-round that I think it is really serving the local community in that way. It has also provided work for people without housing and opportunities to gain skills. Iíd say that is a great community service. It has educated and worked with hundreds of children, teaching them bicycle safety and basic repairs just in the last year. It has installed bike racks all over the city, building infrastructure. It has been the sounding board and aid for dreamers and inventors, local artists and musicians. It has repeatedly responded to requests for help to different community groups by fixing and repairing and giving them free bikes. I just love the way local residents are starting to hang out and learn and volunteer in the shop. It has conducted bike rodeos for local schools. I like the earn-a-bike program it did. Hundreds of people have Ďearnedí bikes by putting in a little work. Iíve seen bike messengers and bicycle commuters come in for a quick seat replacement when theirís was stolen from their bike or when their chain broke or they needed a tube to get back home. They come in, fix it themselves and are back on the road. Iím truly inspired by what has been done in the past and therein lies my hope for the future. I can see and believe in a community-based organization that the community owns, uses, suppports, feels a part of and cares about. But like any program or business, nothing is static and things change with the people that come and go. The heart and soul of the people involved are poured into something and it becomes part of their lives. Right now I think this one is not living up to the ideal of being a community bike shop or education facility. At times it is, but it feels like the tide is out. Could it be done better? YES. So my vision of something that ďISĒ community is building in my mind. I am very hopeful and enthusiastic when I think about things in this light.
If you could dream a little, what would you create?
September 13, 2005
Energized by Challenges
One of the greatest attitudes to have is being energized by challenges. It means we believe in what we are doing and are willing to do what it takes to get it done, instead of being locked up in paralysis by conflicts and problems. It happens. When we believe in what we are doing then there is always hope. It's when we stop believing in the original good cause that we lose hope and become burned out.
Some things are a good cause and worth working for. I believe that and am willing to put in an extraordinary effort to create something good. When problems come up, I know why I am there. Another way to put this is because I know why I am there, it is because of the problems that I am energized and work toward solving the problems. Jesus said something like, "I did not come here to save the saved." In other words, he wouldn't have been involved if there was no need to be involved. There was a need for him and he believed in what he was doing. Therefore he looked for the problems and made a commitment. That is energizing and fulfilling. As long as we keep a fresh eye on that original 'good cause.' It is worth it!
September 12, 2005
Monday Night Running a bike shop
Ok, tonight was the first night of the Bike Depot's Fall hours. Closed on Monday during the day and open at night. Myself and two other volunteers are staffing the shop at night. We had three customers. One took about an hour of hard work to help, the others just needed tubes and other things. Other than that we worked on the 10 rental bikes that are going out on Wednesday. We had to select some different bikes for this group due to sizes and finding some better bikes to replace some in the rental fleet. Of course the bikes are not ready for Wednesday. Tomorrow I'll be busy at work, then after work I'll help load them up for delivery. Then I'll hang out and wait for the board meeting at 7pm. I'm looking forward to it.
My attitude toward putting in Volunteer time? I think everyone should volunteer somewhere. I've heard one person say they are against volunteers because they think volunteers do shoddy work. But that's just an excuse to be critical of others. It is good for our souls to give to other people unselfishly. So much of the real work in life gets done by volunteers. Even where our own government fails to provide for the basic needs of the poor and homeless, volunteers, using donated money and resources build houses, counsel, teach, type papers, make phone calls and provide other services. Of course it's often not enough, but it's better than nothing. There is always a need for volunteers. And it's a good thing to do for our fellow human beings.
Tonight was a success. We are still looking for volunteers to take a turn on Monday nights and also we want to stay open on Thursday nights. Shifting the hours to the evenings are part of the plan to stay open longer in the Fall and Winter using volunteer labor, since business will be very slow.
Also on Monday nights we'll be running the new 'Earn-a-bike' program format. We've had an 'Earn-a-bike' program before, off and on, but it was never a formal program that had a training course associated with it. Now people who want to earn a free bike have to take the 16 hours of basic bicycle maintence instruction plus work on fixing bikes for the shop. Eventually we'll do the advanced training also. But for now, we don't have anyone signed up to 'earn-a-bike.' Tomorrow is another day.
Volunteering helps the world function when the leaders want to make everyone fend for themselves.
September 11, 2005
Haircuts for free
After buying my Wald hair clippers with attachments and cutting my hair myself, I'm now on haircut number four, which means this haircut was free. My equipment was paid for on the third haircut, using 10.00 per haircut as my guide. With the hot weather and wearing a helmet while biking, having short hair has been great! It's much cooler and very easy to take care of. Nothing against long hair, because last year I was a hippy with a ponytail. No kidding. It's just way more practical this way.
So, now to share my wealth from getting free haircuts, I am now offering a free haircut to anyone who asks me. Of course you might get what you pay for. I'm not a pro yet, but it is free. Just send me an email anytime and we'll make arrangements.
My attitude with this self-hair-cutting thing is not to go against barbers or hair stylists. Everyone has their place. What I am illustrating to myself here is that we often get stuck in one mindset that things have to be a certain way, just because that's the way they are. With creativity and a willingness to try things, it is truly amazing what we can do. We are not powerless. We are not helpless. We can do and create things because that is who we are. Step outside of the mold and be bold. Actually it's not bold at all cutting my own hair, but it feels good. Many people would not even attempt to do this. I would not have when I was younger, although It would have been very beneficial to me then, since I had to have my hair cut short once every month for my job. Now I don't need to and I am doing it myself. Go figure. It's fun though and economically a good thing for me.
Want a free haircut?
September 10, 2005
A new headboard
We have to accomplish things at home too. That is my lesson to myself for today. I spent time last night and tonight building and mounting a very unique looking headboard on our bed. It looks like a white picket fence. Slowly our room is being transformed into a beautiful, pleasant country garden. But it all takes time. Especially if it's a big project. Time is limited I guess and it's part of finding a balance in life. This is a huge issue for most people I think. Many people devote their entire lives to their work only to find later that they missed out on their kids growing up or they lost their relationship with their spouse, and so on. But many people have a found what their priorities are. I'm still working on this thing called balance. At least I have a new headboard now and it looks cool. (very inexpensive to build also).
St. Paul Classic on Sunday. I'll be sitting at a table at St. Thomas from 7am to about 2pm or so. I love thise huge events. Kind of festive and everyone seems so happy. It's part of balance to get out and enjoy life too. That is a healthy part of life.
September 9, 2005
Up and down
Today Iím really tired physically. I have to go home now and rest. Saturday Iíll be working on bikes at the shop, then doing some remodeling in my house. On Sunday Iíll be sitting at a table at the St. Paul Bike Classic. Huge event! Lots of people there. Iím really looking forward to it and canít wait see all of the strange and cool bikes (and people) that are there.
My energy levels are way down right now, most likely due to lack of sufficient sleep, but itís always important to treat other people with love and respect. Itís also important to treat ourselves with love and respect. We are more vulnerable to self-criticism when we are exhausted. Another reason I feel like I do might be because I'm sad that I cannot afford to take a class at the U this semester. I have to wait until January now and save my dollars. It's ok, but still I was looking forward to this semester. At times like these I just have to roll with it and get the rest I need and try to be extra aware of how Iím treating myself and others. Life is sometimes up and down, happy and sad, heavy and light, but with a good heart filled with love, nothing is insurmountable and the dark times will pass.
On a positive note I am saying thank you to everyone who is reading my blog and who have made comments and suggestions and have been part of my life in other ways. I appreciate it. It's fun writing and meeting new friends.
Oh, yes, I meant to ask, if any of you bicyclists feel like you could help me out with an essay on anything bicycle related for the bike depot, please write it up and email it to me. I'd like to get some fresh voices on the web page. I have committed to writing 12 of these, one each month, so I'll write one anyway. I'm currently working on one called: "What it takes to commute by bicycle in the winter." If you have some favorite stories or tips you want to share on winter commuting, I can include a blurb or quote from you in my essay also.
I know there are a lot of good writers out there who read this so what do you say?
See previous essays at : http://www.bikeped.org and scroll down toward the bottom of the page. You can email me at either one of these emails: carl1236 @umn.edu or firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you bicycle enthusiasts, especially the ones that ride your bike in cold climates all year-round like I do.
Thanks, and have a great night!
September 8, 2005
What a waste!
I was sitting on a park bench watching the world go by. I observed a man smoking a cigarette. He seemed to be enjoying it. By my observations this man obviously had very little to his name. His clothes were ragged, his hair was sticking out in all directions, and he smelled. I could smell the smell of no showers, like I smell myself after a hard workout, followed by cooling off then working in the yard, followed by cooling off and repeatedly sweating. Iíve done it for a few days before with no shower. I smelled like this guy. But I could also smell his cigarette, which probably contributed to the smell of no showers.
Regardless, he seemed to be enjoying his cigarette, contemplating life and looking around. I wonder what his thoughts were. He was probably not wondering about me or why I was sitting on that bench watching people. Maybe he was thinking about when he would go take a shower and where. I like observing people because it reaffirms a lot of what I know about life. Then he finished his cigarette and left. I sat there for a half an hour and thought about this man a little, then he drifted out of my mind, like the smell of his cigarette eventually left my nostrils.
Then he was there again, lighting up another cigarette. I couldnít believe it. I observed this man again, seemingly enjoying another cigarette. I thought, doesnít this man know that itís killing him? How smart can he be if he is willingly and deliberately killing himself!? And by the looks of him, he doesnít need to be wasting his money on cigarettes when he obviously needs new clothes! Cigarettes are so expensive! I thought, ďDoesnít this man realize that he could buy a whole new wardrobe that didnít have holes in it with the money he would save by not smoking!?Ē What a waste of money! Thatís one reason I donít smoke. It is a waste of money and a tool for self destruction. Smoking cigarettes is suicide and a waste of life and money that could be used for a better purpose.
As I was thinking these thoughts, it began to occur to me that I should say something to this man. His life depends on it. He is ignorant about life and needs my help. Obviously he could use new clothes and a shower and a place to live. If he would only make better choices, he could have all of that. Smoking is not a good choice in life and I thought it was important enough to let him know. It doesnít help people to be soft on them. Sometimes they need to know the truth for their own good. So, I went over to him as he was stubbing out his cigarette in the dirt and told him how foolish smoking was. He just looked at me, like he was shocked that I was even talking to him. I donít know what I was expecting for a response, but he could have said, ďFuck you!Ē by the look in his eyes. He just said, ďyeah I know.Ē Then he went on with his business, leaving the cigarette butt on the ground. I wanted to tell him to come back and pick it up. Even after I pointed out the error in his ways, he created another error by leaving his poison on the ground to pollute the earth. Not only is he killing himself, wasting money better spent, but also destroying the environment that I share!
After he left I sat back down on my park bench and my eyes kept being drawn to that cigarette butt on the ground. It was a great focal point and kept reminding me of everything that the cigarette-smoking man was doing wrong and how I wished that only he would realize what was happening to him and to everyone around him that had to smell his smoke and look at his butt. I thought, ďNext time I see this man, Iím going to have to be more forceful to get my point across.Ē He did not come back to the park though before I had to leave.
This did get me thinking though on how I could get people to realize how stupid and wasteful they are being. Their money would be better spent on health foods and clothing and other more important things. From now on, Iím going to show people pictures of dying people and blackened lungs then compare that with pictures of clean-cut, healthy, athletic people riding bikes and climbing mountains and living in decent houses. That will obviously teach them a lesson about life and how to better spend their money.
Now, Iím a fairly decent person, well educated, and I care what happens to other people. If I didnít what kind of a person would I be? I know you think I am being judgmental toward this person, but in the end, I know I am right. I have seen people destroy themselves by smoking and cut 10-20 years off their life when their lungs collapsed and had to go on oxygen, then die of pneumonia in the hospital. And to think of how much better their lives could be if only they would see what I see. In a way I am so thankful for the enlightenment I have gained so I donít make these kinds of poor choices in my life. I owe a lot of that to my broad education and my willingness to look at myself. That is why I donít smoke. I am willing to admit when I am doing something self-destructive and foolish and have the ability to fix my errors in thought. This is the product of years of study and hard work and life experience! So even though I might have been a little harsh when I talked to that man about smoking, telling him how bad it was for him and how he was wasting his money and his life, I knew it was for his own good.
Then God spoke to me and said, ďFuck you,Ē and walked back inside, throwing his cigarette butt on the ground, never to return. ďWhat a waste,Ē he muttered to himself.
September 7, 2005
When I was at the Acadia Cafe on Monday night I picked up the Stinky Grrrl zine, Issue 6, June 05. I really liked it. One idea she wrote is the need for us to be stripped of the identities we create when we come to God. God already sees us naked of those and there is no need to prove anything to God.
You can get your own copy of this nicely produced Zine by writing to her. A little cash might help also to cover the printing and mailing costs.
P.O. Box 581882
Minneapolis, MN 55458
September 6, 2005
intellectually and brilliantly Ďdissingí each other
I met a person the other day who believed he had all the answers and everyone else was wrong and he let everyone know. Then when someone pointed out his hypocrisy he qualified his statements with a handy phrase like, ďOh Iím the worst. Hell, donít look at me. I admit that I am a fool.Ē This could have just as easily been me or any number of people I know at different times in our lives. One of the first stages in awareness is to recognize things are screwed up. Often this is accompanied by finger pointing and blaming others for the mess. Itís easy to point the finger at the Republicans or the Democrats or the Religious institutions like the Catholic Church, or the Fundamentalists or the immigrants or the Natives. Itís easy to say other people have it all wrong and thatís why our society is so screwed up. Itís an easy way out. Intellectually we can know all the great quotes and be able to justify our rightness, bolstering our position with the words of the dead and respected. But this brings me to a great point about judging others. Too often we are willing to use anything, even respected and Holy Scriptures to cut others down and lift ourselves up. Itís like the idea that the world will see my brilliance because I am right and I have the intellectual knowledge to back it up. The problem with this by itself is that it is only partial knowledge. It lacks love for the republicans, the democrats, the Catholics, the Fundamentalists, the immigrants or the Natives. We can so easily forget to love each other in the name of being right.
The next stage of awareness is seeing through the screwed up-ness of a situation and seeing the real people involved and finding a way to love them. Often in this stage we are confronted with our own hypocrisy because we find it conflicting to condemn and judge the very people we love, like our mothers, brothers, sisters, friends or lovers. This is one reason we are told by God to love our neighbors as ourselves. Itís much harder to condemn and judge someone we really love.
I think the next stage of awareness is action based on love. When we witness a car accident, itís not enough to sit by and watch the victims die. Even if they are a drunk driver and Ďdeserveí what they get, we still have a responsibility to try to do something. If we see someone getting sucked in on a moneymaking scam or taken advantage of by someone with less than scrupulous motives, isnít it our responsibility to try to do something? On a more subtle level our own actions are models for everyone else. We create change by being what we know is right and good. When we see a screwed up world it does help the world if we are not co-creators of the screwed-up-ness of it all.
Our intellects can be truly brilliant at convincing ourselves that we are better than everyone else, while we are still part of the problem. Awareness and enlightenment is not the same as being Ďright.í Being Ďrightí is not enough. It is only partial knowledge that has not led to true wisdom and healing. This is the difficult and narrow path. Jesus walks in our midst all the time, challenging our intellect. Today it was an older woman pushing a stroller, followed closely by a very young boy. I was eating a hotdog and drinking a soda when she looked at me and said, ďCan you help us get something to eat?Ē I replied with the fact that I had just spent my last three dollars on this food, which I was eating while walking. She said, ďOkĒ and kept walking. Then the truth hit me. Yeah, I had just been challenged. Technically I did spend my last three dollars in cash, but I could have bought that entire family lunch with my cash card. It was not my last three dollars, though spending money on her would have been an interruption in my planned lunchtime activity and destination. I did not see through the situation to the real person until after the opportunity was missed. I did not apply the knowledge of Ďlove your neighbor as yourself.í In this case I was being inconvenienced. Hopefully I will be more aware next time instead of standing by and watching the wreckage and blaming someone else or saying itís someone elseís problem. We are all more beneficial to the world if we stop intellectually and brilliantly Ďdissingí each other and apply the love that comes with complete knowledge or wisdom.
September 5, 2005
Extending my vacation - I'm back but in denial
Labor Day weekend is over and I'm back from Lake Superior. It was beautiful there and that lake is awesome! As I said before I'm going to go to Acadia Cafe tonight so today's blog entry is about that.
I met Katey and Gordon at the Bike-in-at-the Bell and bought two copies of their CD. I gave one to my daughter, who loved it, and I've been listening to the other one. Then I found out that Katey and Gordon are leaving town and travelling around the U.S. In an email from Katey, I was told that tonight is their farewell evening in the Twin Cities and also that this unique thing they had going, Pedalling Records is being passed on to someone else. I look forward to going to Acadia Cafe tonight for a couple of reasons. First, to get to hear Katey and Gordon live. Secondly, to experience something I haven't before. It will be an extension of my vacation. Tomorrow I'll be back at work.
As a quick summary, I had a great 5 days and did some good hard workouts. It felt great! I came within 15 feet of two bear cubs but luckily no mama bear. And I did backflips off the cliffs into Lake Superior. It took my breath away.
More about my vacation tomorrow! Right now I have music to experience.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Time: 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Cover Charge: $3.00
Ages: All Ages
Peddling Records Showcase presents a "Fine Engagement" Featuring: Your Loving Tiger,
Wallace Wyllie, Rick Ross (of RAWBEAST), Allen Moore, Katie and the Chicadees plus special guest appearances.
This event doubles as a send-off for Gordon and Keteya and Triples as we christen a new era in Peddling Records History as the label changes hands.
A warm welcome is extended to all.