"Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping." --Virginia Woolf A Room of One's Own

blogroll me Fatty baby!

Last week, give or take a day or two, I committed what very well could be a blogging faux pax (I think that's French for F**k Up), which is insulting a particular blogger in the same post where I asked to be put on his blogroll. I regularly read The Fat Cyclist blog, and every now and then leave a comment. I mean, heck, what's the point of reading a blog if you don't comment on it on occasion (like I wish more readers would do here, but I'm whining). If you want to read his blog, my comment, and his response, you'll have to click the above link (or clink on my blogroll link) and scroll to the December 1st entry and then click on the "comments" link.

Too cold to bike!

Right now it's 8 degrees fahrenheit outside, much too cold, for me anyway, to ride my bike to work, never mind the icy roads that make it dangerous enough without the cold and the horrifici windchill. Brrrr! It's been over a week since I've been on the bike and I'm not sure when I'll get to ride again. If it were only cold, I might brave it, but the ice and the lack of clear shoulders to ride on scares me. What's a boy to do?

Death, dying, the living and literature

Rachel's mother had her obituary appear in today's paper. Here's a link to the online version. I don't think registering needs to be done. Bonnie Ruth Peters (Burns) obituary. The picture was taken at an anti-war rally, and behind her, though you can't see them now, are the ubiquitous "No War!" signs.

A piece of literature that was on my mind during Bonnie's last days was Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Illych." Anyone familiar with the story could tell you that it is about the life, perhaps the living death, of a mid-level functionary is late czarist Russia. Ivan comes from a cold and uncaring family, and he makes his rise through the bureacracy, at one point abandoning what ideals he had (assuming he had any) and decided his career was to be about making a certain amount of money. While the story concludes shortly after Ivan's physical death, the story is really, at least for me (and this is largely how I teach it), about him being spiritually/emotionally/psychologically dead long before he is physically dead. Once Ivan is passed over for a promotion, a promotion given to a seemingly less qualified colleauge, he and his wife strive only for money, position and something approximating power and prestige.

As he is decorating his latest home, the home in which he will die, he bumps his side and injures himself fatally, though the death is long and drawn out. In some respects, this death is much like Bonnie's cancer that she struggled with for three-and-a-half years, but only in its duration. She struiggled mightily with the affects of many different chemo treatments over the years. Ivan was dressing up his life so others would think himself some sort of a bigshot, which he really wasn't, at least not in any way that matters. Bonnie, too, wasn't a "bigshot" in any respect, though she touched a lot of lives in her work with special education students and their teachers. Rarely did she get thanks of any sort except from her co-workers. Parents are generally a thankless bunch, especially those parents who are expecting special services from school districts, with extracting a better word than expecting here.

Politics of Bicyle Commuting in Spokane

The following appears in the December 2005 edition of Out There Monthly magazine beginning on page 12 and is reprinted with their permission. I'm leaving my title the way I had it, not because it's great or anything, but because it's mine.

Commuters, Git on Yer Bike! (Get on Your Bike!)

by Bradley Bleck

Seventy-nine million Americans rode bicycles on a paved surface at least once in 2004, the most popular human-powered leisure activity according to the Outdoor Industry Association. That's more than 25 percent of the nation's population. Mirroring that trend, the number of commutes by bicyclists in the Spokane region has increased, for 2004 and 2005 months in which comparable data is available, anywhere from 39 to 134 percent. Despite this jump in bicycling commuters, barely one percent of the area's commuters regularly bike to work. To keep this trend going, several private and public and advocacy groups are working to get commuters on their bikes.

On cheap gifts and stupid people

My wife is on this discussion thread where someone asked what sort of gift to get for her/his child's teacher. My wife, a teacher of fourth graders, chimed in. You can read the whole thread here if you like: http://www.online-sweepstakes.com/forums/showthread.php?t=341373&page=1&.... A number of folks on the list jumped all over my wife, Seredni is her screenname, so I wrote a response for her, but since I don't want her to kill me, I'm only going to post it here and let her decide if it should actually go on the thread, engendering a bit more hostility than is already there.

When I wrote that I want matching sets of towels and china, that wasn't to mean I want those sorts of things from students as gifts. When someone, me for instance, clearly states that she most prefers a card or note over crap, don't zero in on what makes your case and supports your misguided notions. In short, learn to read within the context of the whole. When someone writes that they most appreciate hand-written notes, it's not likely they want anything more, much less a set of anything. Keep in mind that pulling sentences out of context, because they back up what you want to hearthink is so, is not the sort of reading or thinking your child is being taught (at whatever level), so maybe model a bit of thinking for them, even if they don't read this stuff.

More on death and dying

Well, just before midnight last night, November 27, my mother-in-law passed on. It's really quite a disheartening thing to have happen. I was asleep. Rachel was sleeping on the couch beside Bonnie's hospital bed when she was startled awake by the silence. Bonnie had stopped breathing, but only temporarily. Rachel went to her side, took her hand, and Bonnie took a few last breaths and stopped breathing altogether. The hospice nurse made it to the house in about 45 minutes and the folks from the local Neptune Society (the link isn't for a local one, but some in California) were there shortly thereafter to remove her body.

Death, Dying and Hospice of Spokane

Right now, as I write this, my mother-in-law, Bonnie Peters, lay dying just one floor over my head. As you might imagine, this is a trying time. One thing that has made things easier is the support of Hospice of Spokane, apparently one of the first hospice organizations in the nation. They have made a very trying situation much more managable, at least as managable as this sort of thing can be.

Bonnie was diagnosed with stage 4C ovarian cancer three-and-a-half years ago and given six months to live. It's a long story about how the cancer got so far before it was noticed, but my wife would dearly love to sue her doctor-at-the-time for malpractice.

Critical Mass letter to the editor

I sent the following letter to the Spokane SpokesmanReview. They've printed the previous letters I've sent, but I'll wait and see on this one. Addition: The letter was published on December 1.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I have an article in the upcoming Out There Monthly on the politics of local cycling.)

Dear Editor,

I eagerly joined October's Critical Mass ride but based on that experience and Saturday's news regarding arrests during the November ride, I can no longer support the local version of CM. As a cyclist who will log about 4,000 miles this year for fun and commuting, the behavior of too many ride participants is sorely at odds with promoting the cyclist's mantra: same road, same rules, same rights. Not only is purposefully illegal cycling not the point of Critical Mass, such riding is wholly contrary to celebrating cycling, promoting cyclists' rights, and getting people out of their cars and on their bikes. While such a celebration is the goal of Spokane's CM organizers, some participants have determined the rides are to promote their agenda in the guise celebrating cycling. The last thing I want is law breaking cyclists irritating the drivers I'm sharing the road with. To invoke one slogan of the anti-war movement: not in my name do these politically naive CM poseurs represent me as cyclist or citizen. Nor, I suspect, do they represent the many cyclists, CM original local organizers among them, working to make cycling a safer, more enjoyable, part of our life and city.

Bradley Bleck

Why would/should anyone pay for software of any sort?

Thanks to Clancy at Culturecat and a post at Kairosnews, here's a link to Wikipedia's pretty darn impressive list of opensource software: link.

Papers, Papers, Papers and more Papers!

I won't say that I'm dying here under a crush of papers, but it seems like it. Last week I read and responded to (and, yes, graded) papers. While in Boston I read and responded to and graded papers. When I got home I had new papers to read and respond to. I read and responded to those papers, turned them back, got some more to read and respond to, will turn those back today and then I will spend the weekend reading and responding to the papers I picked up yesterday. I don't think I left any out. Mixed in with all of this was some teaching, reading and writing of my own. Am I really reading that many student papers right now? I think so, but I'm losing track.

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