Homer's Travels: April 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Biking ... In The Real World

Nearly three years ago (2 years, 9 months, 1 days since my last real world bike ride), when I finished RAGBRAI, I said that my bike would go in the basement and "will most likely become a permanent trainer."  At the time I never thought I would ride in the real world ever again.  I was wrong.

A bike stand in South Omaha.
After I got my bad numbers during my last physical I started(restarted is more accurate) some of my exercise routine.  I started either walking or riding my trainer (i.e. bike on stand in basement) three times a week.

When I rode my trainer I always watched Netflix but lately its been hard to find anything good enough to distract me.  Then the weather suddenly got better and the sunshine helped change my mind.  Today my bike came off the stand and I rode my bike out in the real world.

The ride was relatively short (11.9 miles - 19.1 km) so I could feel out how my body felt and I have to admit I felt better than I expected.  Netflix beats out the real world ... well, it does on most days ... but when the sun is shining and the wind is cooperative, the real world wins every time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Poetry Out Wow

This week was the Poetry Out Loud national competition.

Nebraska was represented by a student from the Wife's school, Hope S.  Hope made it to the final three, the highest ever for the Wife's school.  She was incredible.

Congratulations to Hope for coming in third out of 300,000 high school poetry reciters and congratulations to the Wife for being an awesome poetry coach.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Yeah ... Things Are Looking Up

Things are looking up ...
including this duck.
Today is Earth Day so I charged up the electric mower and mowed the backyard for the first time in 2018.

It's starting to feel like spring is finally here.  The sun is coming out more often and, as I draft this post, the windows are open letting a cool breeze clear out the stale air.  I've lost track of how long I've been been cooped up inside and I haven't felt like doing anything.  My mood just hasn't been conducive to activity.  My days have largely been dedicated to chores, catching up on various TV shows, a little reading, and trying to convince myself that I need to do more.  In general I've been feeling a bit blah.

This has changed a bit lately.  I started either walking or riding my trainer three times a week.  As I got out and walked I rediscovered the Sun which has been an immense help.  My mild S.A.D. is waning revealing the varying levels of depression I have been living through since I walked off the Appalachian Trail over a year ago.  This depression is also diminishing as time does its healing and the Sun clears out the shadows.  I'm starting to look forward to walking again and I am considering taking the bike off the trainer and riding in the real world once again.

Yeah ... Things are looking up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book: Omar Saif Ghobash's "Letter To A Young Muslim"

After reading about the end of Democracy I needed to find more positive reading material so, as my ninth book of 2018, I read Omar Saif Ghobash's "Letters to a Young Muslim".

Ghobash, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to Russia (and currently France), compiles letters he's written to his two sons explaining how to be a good Muslim in the twenty first century.  The letters touch many subjects but they are all written from a place of experience and wisdom - a gift to a new generation.

I learned a bit about Islam by reading this book.  I knew some of it but hearing it from a Worldly Muslim point of view gave a freshness to the material.  It is written in an easy to read, familiar style that makes the material feel accessible.

Every young Muslim should take the time to read this but I doubt many will and if they do I am afraid that will not accept the gift.  Ghobash is what I would call a moderate (if not liberal) Muslim and many of his ideas concerning Islam clash with the more traditional teachings of Islam.  He comes from a place of moderation, mutual respect, and diversity.  He encourages Islam to reject extremism and to embrace modernization and communication between the faiths.  Ideas that, sadly, will fall on many a deaf ear.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads because this book needs to be read and learned from.  Its style is easy to read, easy to understand, and, if followed, will make the world a better place.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

April F-ing Snow!

To all that white stuff I see outside I say:  'F' You!  It's supposed to be Spring!

Snow on April 15th!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Photograph: "Chillin' Heron"

Saw this guy (or gal) watching the rippled waters of Walnut Creek Lake.

"Chillin' Heron"
by Bruce H.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Book: Steven Levitsky And Daniel Ziblatt's "How Democracies Die"

I saw Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt's "How Democracies Die" on one of my regular Sunday morning news shows and I thought I'd take a look.

The book analyzes several examples of Democracies who have transitioned to authoritarian governments and compares these example with what is currently happening in the United States.

As I read this book and considered the examples of pre-WWII Italy and Germany, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, and Argentina (among others) it was obvious America is on there path to authoritarianism.  The similarities were striking and a bit disconcerting if not frightening.

The authors alternated between historical examples and current events.  I wish the authors had provided more in depth analysis of the dying democracies and limited the comparisons to one or two chapters.  There was not enough historical analysis and too much scaremongering.

Despite this, I still gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads.  There is a strong suggestion, based on history, that American democracy is in danger of joining the list of failed democracies.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Some Vermin Caught My Eye The Other Day

On my walk earlier this week I walked past the Modern Arts Midtown gallery.  While I've never gone in, and I didn't go in this time either, something in the window caught my eye.  In the window were a bunch of four inch tall figures of humans in all sorts of situations.  Engraved on their backs was "Vermin.Me".  In front of the gallery are several sculptures including a large metal sphere with a few of the little figures apparently working on the structure.

The work is by Jaime Burmeister.  Many of his pieces of sculpture include the little vermin, as he calls them, in different situations.  I'm not sure what it is but his work really peaked my interest.

Vermin.Me working hard.
(part of a work called "Eggs" by Jamie Burmeister)
I'll have to go in some day to see his other work up close.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Book: John Scalzi's "Zoë's Tale"

Six years ago I read the first three books of John Scalzi's Old Man's War series.  At the time there were four books.  The fourth book, "Zoë's Tale", retold the third book's story from a different perspective.  I decided, based on other people's reviews and a similar story retelling in another series I once read, that reading it would be redundant.

In the six years since, two more Old Man's War books have been published and I have decided to try to catch up.  To do this I needed a little reminder of what was happening in the series the last time I visited it and "Zoë's Tale" was a good way to get back in.

The story follows a young girl introduced in earlier books retelling the story of the founding of a colony and the politics around it (seen originally in "The Last Colony").  It reminded me of the interesting world Salzi created in his earlier books.  It also reminded me that Scalzi is not a teenage girl.  Zoë is written way too mature for her age.

Never the less, I liked the book and I gave it four stars on Goodreads and I am now ready to move on to book five of Old Man's War.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Easter ... Lion?

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Easter.  Watch out for the Easter Lion!

A stone cold Easter lion.