Journal Writing

I write often in a journal. I write the journal in my word processor and I typically title the individual documents as ‘Daily Writing – (date)’. I have also written in a paper journal, like those shown here. I find though that I feel better with a fresh page each time I write. Starting a though in a handwritten journal days after the last entry, and on page 38 doesn’t feel right. I want to start fresh. Nevertheless, I have many pages written over the years, from hotel rooms in Europe, on flights, or while away from home and sitting in a restaurant of coffee shop. These were handwritten. Not writing when without my computer would have been a lost opportunity for capturing thoughts at the time.

Writing in my journal is useful for my writing process overall. I can start out with the lamest sentence or thought and within a few lines be onto something worthwhile. Often by deleting one or two paragraphs I have a thought that can be posted or stored away. Not everything that I write is for publication. Some of my writing is used to create clarity in my personal thoughts. I almost never write about other people specifically – even in my journal. My thoughts about individuals, if they are strong enough to consider writing about and if they are negative, are only going to hurt someone if expressed – especially in writing. I have no interest in doing that. I need to think about this though. Maybe I’m missing out in my expressions if the thoughts stay private. But if they don’t – uhhh!

I don’t often go back and read my journal entries. Recently I did. I can see from what I’ve written over weeks and months that I have certain concerns that reoccur. From reading those older entries I realized how much my mind was re-thinking the same thoughts. I wonder if we all do that? I am guessing (and hoping) yes. Going back through those files I didn’t find more than what I’d gotten from them right away. Any good ideas had been mined already. The rest was my mind-chatter. Stuff that wasn’t really worthy. Fears and frustrations mostly.

Journaling helps me though, even if much of the writing turns out to be junk. It clears my mind. Often I need to write in my journal for a couple days before I’m able to write something new or thoughtful. Getting used to putting 500-750 words onto the screen in a short time is also a good habit for a writer. You can’t get better if you don’t write.

Can Creative Writing Be Taught? (via Life and Art)

This post is thoughtful and well reasoned. The author is an artist. I have wondered about this myself having taken a creative writing course recently. Can we be taught to write creatively? I enjoyed the classroom experience, but I don’t know if I really became a better writer as a result. My writing has improved over the years. It seems to me that by writing often I’ve improved. A structured course can be a part of that continuum of improvement. Why not? Having the ideas of someone other than my own self was useful and made me work at the writing differently.

See what you think…

Can Creative Writing Be Taught? Catching up on some reading yesterday, I came across an interesting item published in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago about whether you can teach creative writing. Unsurprisingly, it prompted mixed views. But I found it of interest because over the last few years I have found myself wondering about precisely that question in relat … Read More

via Life and Art

Mecum – Indy Collectible Car Auction

Friday night my wife and I went to the Indianapolis Fairgrounds for an auto auction. The auction was really interesting. We didn’t understand the size of the auction and also the dollar values that were changing hands. Many of these cars, and there were hundreds – perhaps over a thousand, were being auctioned for in excess of $50,000 – $100,000. These were all fully restored right down to the frames. We had a good time looking.

Here are some photos.

Why The National Debt Ceiling Will Rise

This video is very simple, very short. It explains in no uncertain terms why we are absolutely going to raise the government debt ceiling. It doesn’t matter how we feel about it. I don’t have a particular axe to grind on this issue. I just think that a clear thought, as this gentleman illustrates, was worth sharing.

Simplicity and Thought in a Complex World

Leading a simple life in a complex world isn’t easy. The messages that the world has for us are a constant distraction. Advertising and marketing messages are twisting our ideas and our view of life. Promises for satisfaction are very attractive and usually lead to an empty wallet and a sense of unfulfilled aspirations.

But its not just the blatant misdirection. News today is misleading. The ones giving us the news are almost always giving a slanted version of reality. Even if there isn’t a bias, the news distorts the importance of each story. If each story is a breathtakingly important one – the only type that we want to read or watch – then the world takes on an artificialness. The news seems important, but life moves on, the sun comes up and goes down, without concern for the events we think are so critical. We advance through life thinking too much of ourselves and our understanding of events. We know less than we believe we do. We think that we have a grip on reality that is in fact illusion.

How much of life is actually an illusion? We think that we are advancing and improving, and as a society or species perhaps that has been true, but also perhaps, it is no longer true. Are we in fact advancing ourselves when we are destroying and consuming the world in which we live? As species of plants and animals are being depleted from the earth, are we better off? Are we leaving a better world for the next generation? I think everyone knows the answers to those questions.

Hope or fear – those seem to be the drivers. We respond to either. Lately we have had an abundance of fear. It’s what drives our need for vast commitments to war and defense. It’s why we must constantly denude the planet of its resources – oil, copper, rare-earths, and even fresh water, to name a few. We are afraid as a species. We are driven and can’t help but to keep driving each other. Nothing is enough.

A big part of what we fear is losing control. Control is a big deal for everyone. Having it, or not having it, creates the problems we have in life. As we contemplate simplicity and unwinding the messages and ideas that are thrust upon us, a big part of what we can do, who we are to become, is caught up in the issue of control. Can we control our situation, our surroundings, people we know, and importantly our own selves. And how much control do each of those things warrant? Simplicity demands that we let go. We need to realize that much of perceived control is not real. We might hold something in place for a while, based upon our willpower, but we can’t maintain that force forever. We are not forever.

Some part of all of this is getting a balance. An understanding of what matters, what to let go of. A large dose of humility will help. Not to mention turning off the TV news and commercials.

Just some late night thoughts.

My Bicycle

Since sometime around 1970 I’ve been interested in bicycles. My little brother had a Schwinn Varsity 10 Speed that weighed a ton. He’d long since stopped using it. It was in parts out in my folks shed. For some reason I got it into my head to get it back into running condition and I did. It probably cost me as much as a new bike by the time all the new parts, repairs, and the tune-up were done. I used that bike for only a little while. It ended up sparking my interest in bicycle racing and I started paying attention to what was published about bicycles and bike racing.

I ended up getting a better bike and riding it a lot. About that time   my wife and I were married and I got her and I new bikes. But I wasn’t really interested in just bopping around with her through the neighborhoods. I was interested in training and going fast. That bike didn’t last too long. I traded up to the bike that I want to tell you about.

It was probably 1978 by this time. We’d been married for about six years now and I would be about twenty-eight years old – not a kid. I’d been through my college years by then and I had started work the year before in my first management job.

Throughout all this time from about 1970 − 1978 I’d been reading about bicycle racing in Velo News and Bicycle Magazine. I started to train on the bike that I’d bought with my wife for touring the neighborhoods. It wasn’t a bad bike, but it had heavy clincher tires, and was never intended for racing. Through my interest in the sport I found that there was a bicycle racing club in Western New York and that they had rides on certain nights each week. I showed up one night and get started. Well I was dropped almost instantly. I had no idea about training it turned out. I was not in condition and my bike was way outclassed. I learned quickly that the wheels and tires that I was riding were the main problem, that is besides my lack of wind and muscle conditioning.

At some point soon thereafter I resolved to build a bike. I didn’t want to buy one off the rack. I wanted one that was sized and built to just my specifications.

I put in a lot of time going to various bike shops about that time looking at frames and bikes. In the end I drove to Rochester, NY and found what I wanted. The shop there in a suburb called Greece was a dealer for Serotta Cycles. This was a company that built custom bicycle frames in Sarasota Springs, NY. I wanted what they called a club frame in those days. It wasn’t radical. I wanted a frame that I could ride in road races, time-trials, and on century road trips. So it was a compromise in that sense. One thing that I didn’t want on my custom bike was the name of company. I asked that the frame be manufactured and have a head-tube logo, but I didn’t want any lettering on the top, seat, or down tubes of the bike. Serotta was kind enough to comply.

The frame was a work of art to my eyes when it arrived. I had selected black paint, but what they used was a new epoxy paint called Dupont Imron and it had a fleck of metallic in the black coloration. It was subtle and beautiful to me. Also, this was the time when frames were made from steel tubes and bronzed lugging. The lugs on my frame had cut-outs in the shape of a heart. Within the cut-out the frame makers had painted the hearts a deep red. It looked great. One last feature that the shop had recommended was having my frame pump painted with the frame using the same paint. We did that and got that further custom appearance. All-in-all, the frame was a masterpiece.

After that the component selection was from the Campagnolo Record Group. This was one group down from the epitome of the Super Record Group which I couldn’t afford. It was nevertheless very high class and the parts were beautifully finished and worked with a fine precision that I’d never know in my previous bikes. I ordered reasonably light racing wheels with Campagnolo Record Hubs. Even the spokes, the headset, the seat tube, and items like the cables were all selected item by item. It was a wonderful experience and of course expensive. I ended up paying upwards of a thousand dollars. Back in 1978 that was serious money for a bicycle. You could buy a car or motorcycle for that much money in reasonable shape. In fact, we insured the bike and the insurance agent thought we were talking about a motorcycle until my wife clarified the facts. The agent was appalled but ended up insuring the bike.

I never got to be a great bike rider. I trained for a couple years and that in itself is a story. But starting to ride at that late time in my life was too much to overcome. Younger and stronger riders were always there to dominate the pack. In fact, my efforts were never enough to ride with the top riders for more than the first miles of the race. They simply were stronger and had better wind than I. That’s not to say that I didn’t drastically improve – I certainly did. My strength and endurance were significantly improved after a couple years of training. I would go out on training rides in the evenings two or three times each week. Those rides would last for two or more hours and take me through the back roads and the hills of Western New York. I was extremely happy with my efforts and the condition that I was in at the time.

Reality had to come into it though at some point. By this time I had two little boys and a wife at home. Taking that much time each week, while also working at a job was too much. They needed me to put in more time at home. I ended up selling my wonderful bike. If I couldn’t ride it in a serious way it just didn’t make a lot of sense to have it around. It wasn’t a bike to use for tooling around the block.

It was an enjoyable part of my life – that bike and those training rides. I enjoyed training undoubtedly more than racing. It was a pleasure having so fine a machine on which to enjoy those summer nights.

Chromebook

I’ve been reading more about the Chromebook. This article from Techcrunch seems to be a good overview.

This product is designed to take business that would go to Microsoft. The main advantage is that the interface and the overhead for the operating system is reduced. The user is on line and connected to the internet in just seconds. Many users are almost exclusively on line and this product is aimed at them. It’s light weight and economical. The Chromebook is going to compete with low cost laptops, netbooks, and tablets.

Because I am a writer, I like the idea of a keyboard. The iPad is interesting and has a place in our home, but I don’t write much on it. The Chromebook would likely change that. The real decision for someone like me is Macbook Air or Chromebook? The variables are money and sophistication. The Chromebook is a little heavier and it’s not as sleek as a Macbook Air. The Mac has a much richer computing environment. A difficult decision, but I like the choices.