Nobody “falls off” a bicycle

Enough of this nonsense about Joe Biden falling off a bicycle.

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.

B.J.

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.

Writing, blocks and deadlines

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.

Another type of block. Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

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.

Write on, my friends.

B.J.

Red’s a smart, fine-lookin’ dog

A few days ago my funny, clever, multitalented daughter asked if Red Dog had come up with any questions lately. I had to think for a minute; he hadn’t. Somewhat later – just today, actually – I realized why that was. Red and I haven’t had much trail time lately, just the two of us. (He never asks me anything when Mrs. Smith is around.)

With that in mind, Red and I set out this morning for a walk down by the Colorado River, which is still tryna freeze. The temperature was around 20F degrees when we started. Most of the ice I’d seen on Corn Lake in late January was gone. We went east for a mile or so on the river trail, then across a pedestrian bridge and up a steep, switchbacked cutout to the top of a bluff.

Trail down steep switchbacks by the Colorado River
Heading back down to the river.

Along the way, as if on cue, Red asked me why I spend so much time doing whatever it is I do on this computer or on the other one in my home office.

“Most of that is called earning a living so we can buy dog food and treats and .…” I stopped about there because I could tell by the cold stare that he got the point.

“I’m teasing you, Red,” I said. “Feeding you is a real bargain and we’re happy to do it. You’re family!”

He smiled at that, with those big brown eyes. We kept walking.

He’d asked a great question. I’ve seen many writers respond by saying things like “I can’t not write” and “because I must” and so on. My reasons are pretty simple to explain, at least when humans ask: My job is writing and editing.

I’m fortunate that people pay me to do that sort of thing. I didn’t try to explain that to Red, and I didn’t get into why I’m putting these particular words in this particular order right now, but that’s not complicated, either.

I do it because I enjoy doing it.

I do it because I enjoy doing it. I like making stuff up and I like writing true stuff. It doesn’t matter much if anyone reads this, but I do appreciate those who do.

Back to the walk, which was interrupted as almost every walk with Red Dog gets interrupted, sometimes more than once. Men on the trail never say much beyond hello, if that. But women…

This morning the woman walking toward us, with a guy I’d guess was her husband or partner or whatever, said with a big smile on her face, “Oh, you’re so cute! I’m gonna take you home with me!”

Red assumed she was talking to him, and I suspect he’s right. Nobody talks to me like that.

Write on,

B.J.

That time I tried to meditate

This morning I returned home from a routine visit to the doctor determined to keep an open mind about his suggestion that I try some meditation. That he might recommend this at some point was no surprise; I caught a glimpse of the prayer flags in his office the first time I saw him a few years ago.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I decided to give it a try on my lunch break. As he said, guided meditations are easy to find on YouTube and elsewhere. I got down to business, found a short video, and decided I could easily spare five minutes.

Nearly every second of that time, one of the first few words the guy’s soothing voice said ran through my brain, again and again and again.

Thank you for gifting yourself these next few minutes.

This was not relaxing. I want those five minutes back, dammit.

I grudgingly admit that people have used “gift” as a verb for a long time, but I’m one of the people Merriam-Webster mentions here. It was good to see I’m not alone, but I do imagine I should probably go meditate some more.

Take it easy, my friends.

B.J.

Curiosity, Irish history and the gombeens

Curiosity often gets the blame (or the credit, depending on your point of view) for killing cats, but more often it leads to learning.

Take this morning, for example, when I was fortunate enough to have Presidents’ Day* off and learned that someone named Eamon Loingsigh from New York had started following this blog. I’m not good at all about acknowledging this, but every new follower is a big deal. I look at their profiles and usually read a post or two – out of curiosity, of course.

This time I landed on Petition – Stop Calling it a Famine!

Having some ancestral ties to Ireland, and a photo of my mother visiting a hovel somewhere in County Donegal, I read Eamon’s piece and signed the petition. The words “potato famine” do not do justice to what they are used to describe.

Donegal Castle, 2004. B.J. Smith photo

I did not know such a discussion was ongoing. As a writer and editor, I support calling things what they are. (I was impressed by the polite back and forth in the comments on the blog post.)

I also learned a new word, which I hope to be able to use in a sentence someday and force the curious who’ve never seen it before to look it up:

gombeen

Always curious,

B.J.


* It certainly doesn’t mean what it used to, does it?