Posts Tagged ‘logic’

Chain Gang

21 September 2009

Dear J-

Usually by the time I get on the vanpool I’m positively glowing with self-righteousness and sweat; this week I’m making it a point to be here for the last week before we shift into the extended hour schedule that’s slated to last through the end of the year.  Today, though, with the bike out of commission (my plan of indifferent maintenance — make that none, in fact — has paid off with a snapped chain), I had what felt like an eternity after snapping awake this morning before having to leave.  What I’m most afraid of losing, along wth the vanpool, though, is the missed opportunity to exercise.  I’ve said before that the bike ride keeps me sane, mentally, and without the vanpool, there goes that opportunity to ride twice a day.

My friend told me that the best auto repair class he ever took was shelling out for an Italian car; diagnosis by the side of the road was aided by not having a cell phone (ubiquitous today, but search back even ten years ago).  Friday I limped back after nursing the bike along the last half mile (I was nearly to the top of the hill when the chain snapped), parked the bike, and promptly forgot about it until Sunday night.  The drivetrain had been giving me warning noises and signals — reluctant shifting, near-constant jumping off the chainwheel — but I ignored them as being part of not being in tune.

A little preventive maintenance goes a long way; had I been oiling my chain regularly (I oil the garage door pivots more frequently, and that’s saying something), or if I took the bike in for a tune-up I might be riding it today instead of making plans to bring the chain, wrapped up in newspaper like a dead fish, to the bike shop and asking for a replacement.  Likewise, the body; if I can’t expect absolute reliability with no preventive health care, why would a bike or a camera be any different.  And if I’m not willing to put the time in to keep figgy busy and entertained, what am I actually doing?

Mike

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Outside and About

8 June 2008

Dear J-

I’ve inexplicably received a subscription to Outside magazine. I suspect that it may be due to renewing a discount card at the local used video game store and, in response to the list rattled off by the bored-looking clerk (“Uh … there’s Official Playstation Magazine, Official Nintendo Magazine, Official XBox Magazine, …”) I responded that I didn’t need any of those, so clearly, they gave me the magazine targeted towards twentysomething slackers and video game folks. Either that, or I’m mis-representing a nice gift someone got for me.

As magazines go, it’s not bad, but not terribly memorable either: the last magazine I consciously subscribed to was Games, with many fond memories of hours spent poring over the different clever puzzles and game reviews it contained. Well, forty bucks later, I was having flashbacks again, but this time because the magazine was running, in lieu of new content, what they termed “Classic Games Puzzles” — which I recognized from twenty years ago. Plus I started to remember something distinctly less pleasant: I wasn’t very good at the puzzles then, and still wasn’t very good at the puzzles now, preferring (thanks, Mr. Larson!) to stick with what I call whodunits — logic puzzles, which showed up maybe once every quarter in Games. The next time I was at the newsstand, I invested five bucks in a book of logic puzzles and have since concluded that was an excellent buy, having lasted me nearly as long as a full year of Games.

But this is about Outside, a study in contradictions. On one page you have spiritual transcendence: the world is both bigger and smaller than we think it is, its natural wonders overwhelm and awe us; yet on the next, gear reviews aimed mainly at separating fools and money (if I’m spending $2 000 on binoculars, they’d damn well better go out and get the sights for me — while I sleep — download them, and put on a slide show when I get back, Nikon ED glass or not). So I note with some amusement how Marc Peruzzi’s (the resident grump) column (“The Big Idea”) in the July issue decries the ubiquity of surf culture, focussing on the money (selling out) and hypocrisy (how can surfing be so noble if it’s neither risky nor mellow?) of it, like that of any other sport. There are those (in other words, the majority) who feel that the NBA Finals were rigged in a way — Kevin McHale, GM of the Timberwolves, pulling a blockbuster trade of Kevin Garnett to the Celtics (McHale’s former team) and forming them into something formidable, just as Jerry West, formerly of the Lakers, retires just before Memphis sends their best player, Pau Gasol, to the Lakers, who promptly rip back through the playoffs following a few years of aimlessness with Captain Kobe at the helm.

What bothers me more about Peruzzi’s column is not so much the content (or malcontent, if you will), but the sneering attitude behind it. The whole thing faintly reeks of holier-than-thou (it’s a sweet, cloying odor) and of being able to pass judgement because, somewhere, somehow, someone’s decided he’s more hardcore than you, or whomever he criticises. It’s not the facts he cites, which are sufficiently compelling, or the advertisers he skewers, but the personal anecdotes he brings in just make him look like an ass and detracts from the overall tone of the essay. Oh, and note to the editor — putting this at the end of the column:

EDITOR’S NOTE: See page 110 to get styled for summer’s coolest sport. Shakka-gnar, brah!

only serves to prove that either you don’t actually read the content and/or you’ve missed the point.

Mike