Category Archives: Random

Coping with Change – using deliberate change to take the sting out of life’s disappointments.

My photo album above seems like a chronicle of habits, but I need some new ones. the action camera on the left side of the photo is one of the ideas I’ve had to adapt to ever changing times.

I’m a creature of habit. Those habits, good or bad, have become locked into my life. I don’t manage change as well as I would like. The sad part of that is understanding that life IS change. Lately, for a variety of reasons, I’ve had to face some changes, and the discomfort I feel in dealing with them has forced me to think about ways to cope with change. It might be a good idea to start driving changes for myself. After all, many of the habits I’ve formed are the results of decisions that I’ve made in the past and adopted as habits. It occurs to me that one way to cope with change is to make deliberate changes to my own viewpoint and actions in response. It preempts the feeling that change is something that I’m forced to cope with. Change can’t be avoided completely, but once you’ve faced the initial shock of it, finding a way forward is the only answer. In my case, I have to find a way to set aside old habits, or use the change as an opportunity.

This morning I picked up a photo album that I enjoy. It holds photos of cycling events and friends, and it’s got a lot of memories in it. I thought about signing up for the Patuxent Rural Legacy Ride, a local event that I have always enjoyed. Since it’s already mid April and the ride occurs in mid June, I thought that the sign up page should be available online. I could find nothing related to it. Now this might be an error in searching for it on my part, but I couldn’t even find it on the calendar of the Oxon Hill Bike Club, which sponsors it. I could still be wrong, but it seems to me that if I can’t find a registration page two months before the event, then it probably won’t be held, or in the best case will be held later in the year. Since Pax (As I call it) has been one of my favorite events, I’ll miss it. Change has pounced on me again. The pandemic short circuited a lot of events, and some may not come back, but I have to accept that some of the things I have done from habit aren’t a certainty any more. What I need to consider is developing new habits. It’s less of a loss to consider new things to replace what had become a habit or tradition.

I’ve had a slow start to 2022. Between nagging pains, difficult weather and other concerns, I’m feeling less fit and motivated than usual. This doesn’t mean that I’ll give up, but I need to make some deliberate changes in my own behavior. As the weather warms, I have decided to lead some rides for my local club. that will be an intentional change. In addition, I’ve gotten a small action camera to use as I expand on this journal. The Insta360 Go2 is an interesting device, and I’m still learning the best way to use it. Later I may post more about it. By changing my point of view, and offering change to deal with change, I hope to alter how I relate to to things I’ve taken for granted and move forward with purpose. Replacing the habitual with something new seems difficult. It won’t be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

2022 – Starting again, with a mix of old and new.

I’m looking forward to some familiar events and adventures in 2022. Another trip to Maine in the fall, to see sights such as the Portland Head Lighthouse will certainly motivate me.

Every new year comes in with a sense of optimism. My 2021 was an improvement over 2020, but 2020 was so dismal that it didn’t take much to improve on it. Despite my advancing age, I don’t want to slow down too much. My 2021 will be about trying new things and improving on the old.

For 2022 I want to improve my cycling mileage a bit. It doesn’t have to be a big improvement, just more miles. While I rode more miles last year than I did in 2020, 2020 was such a miserable year that it represented a big drop in miles and it was easy to improve on. I want to improve on 2021. I’m looking into a couple of century rides, a couple of new events, and some longer weekend rides, and perhaps I will ride some of those longer rides at an easier pace.

I’d like to do a few other activities… perhaps some fishing, and other outdoor activities that keep me moving and occupy my mind in a different way. I’ve been very focused on cycling since 2005, and I won’t just set aside something I’ve enjoyed seriously for 17 years. But over the years things have changed. I’m never giving up on what I’ve done all those years. It’s just that I need to find a new way to enjoy it, and just maybe I’ll diversify my interests. That will keep me feeling refreshed. That might be the secret to staying happy in 2022.

Returning to the Movies – A review of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”

My first attempt at a movie review.

Promotional Image for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve been to a movie theatre, mostly due to the pandemic, but partly it’s been a lack of films that I’ve been inspired to see. I was intrigued by the release of a sequel to “Ghostbusters”, and the pull of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” finally got me into a theatre seat. The original “Ghostbusters” came out in 1984 and was an instant hit. The film was original, funny, and well paced. The characters were a good contrast, and nearly 40 years later, it’s accepted as a cult classic. It has been a difficult formula to follow though, after a lackluster follow-up in 1989 and a controversial reboot in 2016.

I noticed that the film received generally poor reviews from critics, but enthusiastic reviews from fans who saw it before it was released to the public. This was the opposite of the reception for the 2016 reboot, which critics praised but audiences disliked. Reading the critics, I think they wanted to defend their praise of the 2016 reboot, and Afterlife makes it an orphan in the Ghostbusters film history. They dismissed Afterlife as pandering to fans of the original. Yet fans found it appealing. Perhaps they want to be pandered to?

This left me thinking – should I believe the practiced eye of the professional critic, or the approval of the kind of fan who attends conventions? Both can be ruthless in their reviews. Sequels and reboots rarely live up to their promise. The Ghostbusters franchise has had 1 disappointing sequel, 1989’s Ghostbusters 2, and the 2016 reboot was considered a failure. The problem with the all female reboot was that it came during a controversial election year. Either criticizing it or supporting it became linked with the candidates. Liking (or not liking) the film got political. When you insert politics into it, you get people polarized for reasons unrelated to the film itself. I think that explains the differences between critics and audiences. It’s the shadow of politics. I decided not to go into the theatre with high expectations.

Count me as pleasantly surprised.
I won’t indulge in spoilers here and it’s difficult not to, but my impression of Afterlife is that it clearly wants the audience to remember its roots in the original 1984 classic. Scene after scene will show something familiar. (Watch the 1984 original before you go, and see how many of these things you notice!) The original cast made brief appearances, and the film paid homage to the late Harold Ramis, who played Egon in the original. The story required a lot of character development, and centers around Phoebe, Egon’s granddaughter, a scientifically gifted girl living with her mother, who clearly isn’t anything like her. The actress, McKenna Grace, was brilliant. She and her family find themselves at her grandfather’s farm, which is full of clues about his ghostbusting past. Phoebe’s brother Trevor, his love interest Lucky, and Phoebe’s new friend “Podcast” become the focus of the story.

The cast, particularly Phoebe, are good. Podcast is a quirky character whose enthusiasm was his strength. I thought Trevor and Lucky could have had more character development though. They felt under-used to me. The film plods through the early phase with Phoebe discovering her heritage, but begins to gain momentum as these characters discover why their grandfather lived there, and the secret of his farm and the nearby mine. Then it builds to a strong finish. The film doesn’t beat you over the head with pratfalls. The comedy is well written. The action sequences are good, and the plot follows on from the 1984 film, giving it a familiar vibe. There is also room for more sequels, but we’ll have to see how it does at the box office before that discussion can start. At this writing, Afterlife has out-performed expectations, and unless interest collapses, it should turn a profit. It’s definitely worth seeing, and while it isn’t as good as the 1984 original, it is definitely better than Ghostbusters 2 and the 2016 reboot. This one is worth buying a ticket for – and also worth watching for the mid credit and after credit scenes! This isn’t the kind of film that keeps you guessing or makes you think, but it does exactly what a film should do: it entertains.

Motivation: Push vs. Pull

Motivation is a tricky business. Getting yourself started when there are other priorities or when doing those things isn’t an attractive or easy notion can be the hardest part of getting something done. What has helped me when I wanted to motivate myself are the concepts of “Pull” and “Push”. The concepts transfer well to many situations and define a style of leadership as well as a personal motivational tool. Push is a command. Pull is an incentive. Between the two, I prefer “pull”.  There is nothing you can do that doesn’t include a little bit of both, but the style of pull is a style with positive connotations. The more you use “pull” the less demanding you are.


A reward for reaching your goal is both a good feeling and incentive to keep going!

In many ways, Push is easier. We are all self contained individuals and since we are all at the center of our own awareness and direct our own actions, it can be very easy to make demands of ourselves and others. That isn’t to say it’s always wrong to push. There are times when it is the only option. The mistake that so many people make is that they leap to it as their FIRST option.  Given any kind of authority, a measure of push is implied, but the drawback of push is that eventually there is resistance to push that can overwhelm you. In short, the more push you use, the more push you need to use.

Pull is a far more interesting concept. Pull is an incentive to act – a reward that feeds back on the person who is “pulled”.  This is a positive experience. It takes more planning, more trust in yourself and others, and more commitment to the goal when you use a “pull” style.  It doesn’t always work, but it does make achieving a goal different by emphasizing the reward. For pull to work, the reward has to be realistic. A goal that moves is not achievable, no matter what the incentives are.

Part of pull is creating good habits. Those include good management of time and a good attention to detail. If you have a good plan and follow it, the goal can pull you along. If you fail to keep to your plan, often the only way to get back on track is to push. Flexibility in planning and reaching a goal is important. The better the plan, the less push is required to reach your goal.

Commitment is important. Pull isn’t possible without it. Keep the goal in focus. Constant pushing can lead to avoidance, which is self defeating. If you’re constantly nagging yourself to do something, that task will take on a very negative connotation, and nobody likes to be pushed constantly or can consistently push themselves. There are times when you have to build a rest or a change into your plans. That is part of pull.

Push and pull are evident in how we interact with other people.  Everyone has a personal style that they’ve learned over their lifetime.  Part of that is the language and tone you choose when you talk to others. Good leaders pull. They share positives. They welcome input and ideas. That’s pull. Bad leaders push. They are not open to new ideas, and they lean on procedures. It’s said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.   I think much of that has to do with the overuse of push!

Sometimes you need to push, but in my opinion, the best way to move yourself forward is to employ incentives and goals and pull yourself along.  Often the good feelings you generate by achieving goals will feed back and make continuing that good behavior easier!

Slaying Dragons

Great narratives require obstacles and challenges.  We are all the heroes of our personal stories, and our lives are journeys that present us with problems and choices. I find myself thinking about choices, and the metaphor that occurs to me when I think of obstacles or goals is the dragon. As a metaphor, the dragon we picture from legend and story is  a powerful and dangerous thing. Dragons represent all kinds of things that have to be overcome as a part of the larger story that each of us are living through. Dragons are fearsome creatures. They embody raw power, and they inspire great fear. As the hero of your personal narrative, you have to overcome dragons to advance your story. When thinking about problems and goals, there are parallels to be drawn with these legendary monsters and real life problems. Metaphorical dragons can be found all around you. Choosing to confront a dragon is how a hero grows. Some dragons we must face in life, and some we choose to face, but dragons exist to challenge you. No matter what kind of dragon confronts you, there are things about dragons (and problems or challenges) that you must remember.


Dragons should not be ignored.
It’s out there. You can feel it. It might make you nervous or tense or anxious or even fearful. You recognize that something is waiting for you. It may even be a small or trivial thing, but it is a dragon. Once you know that a dragon is lurking, you have to recognize the dragon. They have a way of growing larger and more powerful if you ignore them. They consume resources. That dragon occupies your metaphorical space. If you ignore it, fear of the dragon can cause you to freeze or stagnate. There are many problems that only grow more complicated if you ignore them, or if you delay the journey to face them. As they grow, dragons only become harder to defeat. Problems have a way of growing if you don’t face them, and challenges ignored may become harder to face and overcome if you don’t recognize their nature.

Dragons test your resolve.
You know the dragon is there, and now you have to cope with it. Dragons are fearsome things. They have great claws and teeth. They fly and they breathe fire. Will you be able to overcome the dragon? There comes a point when you must make a decision. Dragons are stubborn and malicious. Confronting a dragon is a test. It can occur on many levels, because dragons come in all sizes. Dragons are things you don’t want to face, because facing them requires focus and effort and the character to accept the task of slaying them. Dragons test your resolve. Whether small or large, that dragon is a problem that won’t go away until you face it. The decision to face the dragon is a tipping point. Resolving to face the problem and fight the dragon is important. It may be a matter of responsibility, a matter of pride, or a matter of choice. Once you resolve to fight a dragon, a journey begins. That could be an exotic journey of discovery or a well known and well worn path, but you have to commit to traveling on it.

Dragons require a plan to face.
Dragons are formidable. Once you have committed to facing the dragon, you need the strength and skill to overcome the dragon. Facing a dragon unprepared is unwise. You need tools to defeat them, your metaphorical armor, shield and sword. You must learn how to use these tools. You need to know how to approach the dragon’s lair, and you must learn the weakness of the dragon. Every dragon of legend has a weak spot. As the hero you can overcome the dragon by your strength, your skill, your planning, and your knowledge. A journey is often required to gain the strength, skill and knowledge needed to slay the dragon. Heroes must learn and grow. The price of gaining knowledge is facing the dragon at the end of the journey.

Dragons hoard treasure.
There is a reward for slaying dragons. When the dragon is slain the dragon’s treasure belongs to you. Each dragon you face, big or small, guards a treasure proportionate to its size and power. As you face ever larger and more powerful dragons, you gain confidence and experience. You become more competent. The treasures you gain may be in the form of joy, relief, satisfaction or contentment, and sometimes even material gains. The dragon’s treasure makes the quest to slay the dragon worthwhile. You can’t receive the treasure without facing the difficult task of confronting a dragon. No treasure worth having is unguarded. You need to slay the dragon to appreciate the treasure you receive. Something you get for free is far less valuable than something you had to work for and overcome a dragon to possess.

Dragons in this context are metaphors for all kinds of tasks and goals. Your life is a narrative, and you are the hero of your own tale. The meaning of your life is bound up in the obstacles you have to overcome. Great narratives require obstacles and challenges. These are the dragons we must slay.  You get to choose the dragons you challenge. Part of that requires knowing yourself. What do you really want? That is a difficult question that will identify the dragon you choose to face.

The Joys of Autumn

My favorite season just may be autumn.  Autumn is the time of year that is perfect for getting outside. The start of September is the unofficial beginning, though Autumn officially begins 3 weeks into September, and as I write this, my calendar says Autumn is now official. I thought I’d list a few of the things that I look forward to as the season changes.

Cycling. This is “Century Season” for me, when event rides are commonly held. Autumn is when the combination of riding conditions and rider conditioning are the best. Riders like myself have spent the spring getting themselves into condition, and summer training in the heat. Summer rides tend to start early to keep you out of the heat. When the weather cools and the sun gets up later in the morning, the rides start a little later, and feel much more relaxed.  It’s still comfortable to ride without extra layers of clothing into November here. It feels great to ride in comfort.  After I ride my events, I’m still in good condition to ride. I can find my favorite local rides, include friends, and ride “for the soul”. Soul riding is important to me. I can enjoy the scenery more; I can take in the sights and smells of autumn, and share it in comfort with good friends.  If I want to go fast, it’s entirely on the spur of the moment. What I want is the pure enjoyment of cycling.  I remember Autumn rides more often than rides in any other season.

Beer.  I’ve been known to seek out a good brew and share with friends. (I do not drink alone. That is important.  Drinking to drink is not enjoyable to me.) Post ride beer has become a kind of tradition among my friends and I. Autumn seasonal brews are my favorites. he flavors come to the fore. The hoppy IPAs of summer give way to toasted malts, with richer and darker seasonal varieties.  In autumn, the brews tend to get more malty and dark and complex. They include ales and porters that agree with my palate. Even the trend to “pumpkin” ales isn’t a bad thing; if you find a good one, they can be a good change of pace. However, the “Octoberfest” traditions create the kinds of beer I look forward to.  Brew pubs are flush with dark and creamy varieties that don’t have a hoppy sting.  There are new beers to try and enjoy and pass around. Autumn and beer are a great combination.

Produce. Fall harvest produce is wonderful. Combined with the cool temperatures that make spending time in the kitchen less of a concern, autumn seasonal produce creates a new burst of flavors and colors and enjoyable mealtimes.

Whether cycling or walking or driving, autumn is the most interesting time of year. Regardless of where you are and what you’re doing, there is always something to see. While winter must eventually arrive and chase away this brief, colorful and enjoyable season, I treasure autumn days.

Cold and quiet time

It’s a mid January Sunday, 2018.  A little after 10am. It’s 18 degrees outside my windows.  I’ve already finished my daily workout. Arsenal and Bournemouth are finishing a game in the background as I write this. (Bournemouth won 2-1. David has beaten Goliath today.) I’ve run out of household jobs to do. If this were a perfect day (That is to say warm enough to ride any respectable distance even when wearing all the heavy bike clothing I have available to me), I’d be miles away on my bicycle.

So writing is my refuge for the moment. I’ll go to the bookstore and find something new to read perhaps, or I’ll get out for a walk later, but what my heart would have me do is not the least bit comfortable in sub freezing temperatures. Being single, I don’t have anyone else to make claims on my time. I don’t see that as a disadvantage. I’m not necessarily quiet, but I have some fairly quiet habits. People all over on this cold day have the same problems that I do.  So I’m even done paying bills, and I’m thinking about what else to do, and I’m happy that I’m in a place in my life where my biggest worry is what to write today.

I’ve got a little bike maintenance I can do, but what I really need to do is take my bike to the shop and get a yearly service.  I’ll get the cables replaced, re-tape the bars, get the drivetrain adjusted, and probably replace the chain.  For now, here at home, the best I can do is keep the bike clean and the drivetrain in good condition. It’s days like this that make me think of things to do.  Chores get put off when the weather allows me to be more active. So this is the kind of cold, antiseptic day that makes chores interesting.


Another year, another set of resolutions. It’s very cold outside on New Year’s Day, and despite this, I’ve already started thinking about resolutions. Yes, they involve cycling. That’s because it has a direct effect on my health. The older I get, the more I think that the time I spend on the road cycling with my friends is an investment in a long and healthy life.  As it is, I’m working out in the gym, but eventually the thaw will come, and I’ll be back on the roads, where I feel the most free.

Since life is a precious thing, I’m going to do what I can to improve the quality of my life. So my goal is to continue to ride and celebrate with my cycling friends.  I’d also like to ride at least half a dozen Century rides – and I’m already signed up for the first of them! I’m also going to see if I can find a ride that I haven’t done before to try out this year.

These are modest goals, but they’re achievable, and they’re things I believe in. They’re the kinds of resolutions that make sense to me, and they’re an integral part of the quality of life that I look for.  2018 will be another joyful year if I keep them.

Quality of Life

As I write this, I’ve been unable to ride for nearly two weeks. My last substantial ride was the 6 Pillars Century in Cambridge Maryland last week. It was a great ride, despite what I would describe as a lack of good preparation. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when your mind is in trim.  Having done that, the following Tuesday I went in for surgery on my deviated septum.

In the end, I had my sinuses opened, my septum straightened, and a benign blockage removed. Breathing hasn’t been my strong suit for years. Despite the pain, as soon as the swelling started to go down, I began to breathe better.  I sleep better.  I’m sure that as soon as I’m cleared to cycle again, and I regain some of the form I’ve lost, I’ll cycle better as a result.

I’ve been dealing with my poor airflow for a long time, and I didn’t have to. I made a decision for my quality of life.  Even though I’m not nearly healed yet, I already feel better. I can tell the difference, and I’m told that things will only get better still.  If you have to make a choice that can improve your quality of life, it’s certainly worth doing.

It’s the only life you get.  Do what you can to make the most of it.

A Morning Pause

I just finished a workout in the little gym where I live.  It’s still early, and before I left for the gym I turned on the coffee maker. It’s my reward for suffering before the sun rises.

Despite the aerobic workouts I can still afford to lose weight and get in better condition.  It’s not that I’m a lost cause, but like most people there is a gap between what I look like and what I’d prefer to look like.  So if I can’t get out and ride, I get into the gym and fight against the forces of age and complacency.

The real benefit of working out is getting home and taking a moment to drink a cup of coffee or two.  On a nice morning like this it feels like a luxury. The workout is complete; I have plenty of time to get out the door and over to my office, and this time in between belongs to me.

I’m sure everyone has a point in their day that they can look forward to.  Some people are clever enough to actually plan time to pause and soak in the quiet.  For me this time just popped up as a result of the need to find workout time. I can think back to a lot of moments like this. They all share the same things.  The stillness, the quiet and the feeling of being in the now.  Time won’t matter for a little while. Until it intrudes, I can bask in the stillness.