A few lizards hotfooting across the pavement. Three solitary squirrels scurrying to their own shady spots. A butterfly, fluttering by.
Those were among the few signs of life on the Colorado Riverfront Trail as I pedaled along on my lunch break today. It was not yet 95 degrees F, as it is now, and climbing, climbing. There was time to think.
Dry heat means nothing like what it once meant to us before we came here.
High desert has its charms and wonders, but it is hard not to wonder how long it will be before this lonely planet will be so hot and so dry that one can’t sweat at all, high or low, far inland or on a sandy beach by an ocean.
I’ve been thinking about what my mother and my sister Kathie would be doing at a time like this.
Rosemary would be doing everything she could to elect Democrats, from rallying voters in her precinct to driving candidates between campaign events to making phone calls and writing letters and whatever else she could.
Kathie would be doing some of those same things, and if necessary she would sit down in an intersection and block traffic, as she did one night in 1972 in Iowa City when civil disobedience was necessary. She risked arrest and moved on only when a state trooper lifted her to her feet and physically forced her to move on.
These two set the bar pretty high, and they were gone too soon, and we need people like them more than ever.
Do what you can to stand against oppression by those who are stripping away our civil rights – your individual rights – based on their deeply flawed or deliberately distorted views of the U.S. Constitution. They will undo whatever constitutional amendments they can, ignore others, and overturn more precedents they dislike to turn our democracy into a pseudo-Christian, racist theocracy.
Do not underestimate your individual power and value in this fight. Start with something you can do today, like contacting the lawmakers and lawbreakers who represent or purport to represent you in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Demand that they act to protect your rights and tell them what you want.
I no longer trust the current Democratic leadership to do what needs to be done when it comes to the filibuster and the Supreme Court. Biden, Pelosi and Schumer have had multiple opportunities to end the filibuster, expand the court, and even impeach the justices who lied their way onto the court and otherwise failed to live up to their oaths.
We need new leaders. We need people to stand up and demand better.
Nobody falls off a bicycle unless said bicycle was stationary and remained upright after the person who was on top of it somehow ended up on the ground or pavement or garage floor or wherever the bicycle remains stationary.
If a bicycle is moving and rider and bicycle suddenly both end up on the ground or pavement … or whatever, the cyclist has crashed.
As an experienced bicycle operator who has crashed a number of times – and in the process broken multiple ribs and one pelvis, incurred at least one minor concussion, and experienced countless bloodied knees and elbows – I can testify that in none of those mishaps did my bicycle remain upright.
I have never fallen off of my bike, even when I was new to those so-called “clipless” pedals and slowed down and forgot – as everyone does, sooner or later – to unclip.
I crashed. Joe Biden crashed. I watched the video and his bicycle clearly ended up on the pavement with him.
If you’ve never crashed while riding your bicycle, you need to get out more. If you’ve fallen off a stationary bike, I don’t know what to say.
Pedal on, my friends. Pedal on.
P.S. Yes, as a professional writer and editor, I think words are important. Editors get paid for being those people who distinguish between falling and crashing. Being a pain in the ass is one of the benefits.
On a hot, sunny evening in the valley we sat on smelly folding lawn chairs we should have replaced years ago but I didn’t know until just then that they were smelly, as if they’d been stored in a dark, dank basement for years. Now I know.
To the east loomed a flat-top mountain, reaching five-thousand-plus feet above us. Sheer cliffs to the south and west obscured another horizon but promised to hide the sun in just a little while. To the north and stretching toward Utah, more cliffs hid the high desert that reached beyond to wherever.
Strangers and friends arrived with their own smelly chairs and straw hats and camera phones and smiles, and attitudes and opinions on their tees and skins, and expectations of reliving something of the past that just would not fade away. An hour on, maybe more, it happened in this place by the river where we sat surrounded by the world and now by sound.
I caught part of an interesting discussion on The Content Wrangler the other day about technical writer’s block. As something of a writer’s block skeptic, I was reminded (again) about the importance of defining terms.
A highlight for me in Overcoming Technical Writer’s Block was host Scott Abel’s perspective on having to meet deadlines when he worked as a journalist. As another guy whose writing career started at a daily newspaper, I could relate. Writer’s block? A reporter who can’t meet deadlines probably isn’t a reporter for very long. I think the same applies to other writers who need to finish assignments on time.
I’ve read various takes on writer’s block and accept it is a real thing in people’s lives, but it can mean quite different things in different circumstances. Much depends on how you define the words you use. Take what you mean by writing and deadline, for example. Here’s what those terms mean here at The Smith Compound:
Writing – A process for creating prose, poetry or another collection of words for any purpose. It is not an act. The writing process begins with an idea. In the news business, it often begins with an assignment to be finished by a deadline. Gathering information is part of the writing process. Figuring out how to tell a story is part of the process, too, whether the writer is hiking in the forest or fishing or riding a bicycle. Sitting in front of a computer screen or other device to put words in a certain order is part of the process. Doing any of those things while struggling to come up with an idea of what to write may indicate the existence of writer’s block.
Deadline – An unmovable target for completion of a project, writing or otherwise. If the target date can be changed, it might be a goal – or a suggestion, or maybe wishful thinking – but it isn’t a deadline. There are consequences for missing deadlines.