Gassho, Thich Nhat Hanh

January 21, 2022

Thich Nhat Hanh, via Upaya Zen Center.

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has gone. He was 95.

A champion of mindfulness, compassion, and peace, he departed from the Tu Hieu Temple in his homeland, where once — as an opponent of the Vietnam War — he was not welcome.

He returned twice to teach, publish, and lead retreats and ceremonies before finally going home for good in 2018, following a stroke four years earlier.

In his book “At Home in the World,” published in 2016, Nhat Hanh addressed his inevitable leaving. He wrote:

This body of mine will disintegrate, but my actions will continue me. If you think I am only this body, then you have not truly seen me. When you look at my friends, you see my continuation. When you see someone walking with mindfulness and compassion, you know he is my continuation. I don’t see why we have to say “I will die,” because I can already see myself in you, in other people, and in future generations.

Even when the cloud is not there, it continues as snow or rain. It is impossible for the cloud to die. It can become rain or ice, but it cannot become nothing. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There’s no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body, but that does not mean my death.

I will continue, always.

The Upaya Zen Center of Santa Fe will offer a memorial service via YouTube at 5:30 p.m. Mountain time today. The Zen center he co-founded, Plum Village, plans an extended remembrance beginning tomorrow. You can read more about Thich Nhat Hanh at Lion’s Roar.

Freezing Friday

January 21, 2022

Ice, ice, baby.

Went to the taxidermist this morning and they said they wouldn’t need to skin me this time.

“Nope, you look as well as can be expected for a wretched old bag of bone splinters and bad ideas,” the hide inspector said. “But since I don’t get to use the melon baller on you again I’m going to freeze this spot on top of your head because a little hit of schadenfreude relieves my weltzschmerz, if only for a moment. Also, you have health insurance.”

She also found the usual scattering of “wisdom spots,” but not inside my head, where I could really use them.

Take it to the bridge

January 21, 2022

Sonny Rollins doesn’t play anymore because he can’t.

But there was a time when he stepped out of the jazz spotlight voluntarily, because he felt he wasn’t living up to his own musical expectations.

Rollins spent the next two years playing to the sky from the Williamsburg Bridge, spanning the East River in New York City. And 60 years ago this month, he returned to the studio for a session that led to his comeback album, “The Bridge.”

“What made me withdraw and go to the bridge was how I felt about my own playing,” says Rollins, now 91. “I knew I was dissatisfied.”

John Fordham of The Guardian has the story here.

Wrong ring

January 20, 2022

Kurt Vonnegut would’ve recognized this asshole.

Poor Joe. Thought he finally grabbed the brass ring. Turns out it was The Turtle’s asshole.

 

Trails, please, and hold the tears

January 19, 2022

The Duck! City as seen from just above the Embudo dam.

I’ve been in something of a metaphorical rut lately, bikewise, so today I thought I’d get in an actual rut as a change of pace.

The Voodoo Nakisi and I took the foothills trails south to the Hilldale Loop and back, and real, physical ruts there were aplenty. I hadn’t been down that way since November 2021, and it seems weather and traffic have done some remodeling in my absence.

Is that gravel or dirt? The UCI Gravel Committee is never around
when you really need it.

The weather was brisk, and there weren’t a lot of people out and about, which was fine. The trails and I were getting reacquainted, and we’re both old enough to do without chaperones. Nobody needs to see me busting a move, especially if it ends with a busted bone.

My attention has been known to wander, and occasionally I find myself riding the trail in my mind, not the one under my wheels. This caused me to perform a trick dismount once in Bibleburg’s Palmer Park, when the mental and physical trails differed by a couple crucial meters after some unheralded renovations by the trail fairies. The bike went down, but I did not.

Today I kept the pace moderate and the autopilot off, and my miscues left neither paint nor DNA behind. I have an appointment with the dermatologist coming up and I don’t need any quips about leaving skin removal to the professionals.

Speaking of getting skinned, here’s hoping that the Jan. 6 committee gets to hang a big, greasy, orange hide on its wall now that the Supremes have declined to pull The Very Stable Genius’s fat out of the fire he started.

Ordinarily I don’t approve of trophy hunting, but some heads just beg to be mounted. The National Archives taxidermist better have all of his shots and a hazmat suit.

A Monday mooning

January 17, 2022

A smattering of Oliphant from the Mad Dog library.

A few observations under the Wolf Moon:

• A Puck in the gob. The Albquerque Journal has a little piece on my favorite political cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, who spent 60 years pantsing the powerful before failing eyesight finally pushed him away from the drawing board. I met Oliphant in the Seventies, when the Fine Arts Center in Bibleburg hosted an exhibition of his work. He was very gracious to a dumbass hippie kid who claimed he was a cartoonist too, enduring a bit of grilling and even volunteering a few tips.

• Dave’s not here. Hal Walter’s dad, Dave, recently passed away. The two had had their differences over the years, as fathers and sons often do (see O’Grady, Harold and Patrick), but Hal took a moment to remember the good times with the man who introduced him to the great outdoors.

• And The Biggest Midget in the Room Award goes to. … The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. Every niche needs its shiny object, I guess. But if you can get to it via paved road it’s bullshit.

Howling at the Wolf Moon

January 16, 2022

A nearly full moon and a bowl of jambalaya will spice up your dreams.

Eating spicy dinners as a full moon looms is a recipe for weird dreams.

The Wolf Moon won’t arrive until tomorrow, but it’s been howling at me for a few nights now, ever since I made a pot of jambalaya, a favorite dish adapted from a recipe by Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu by way of The Washington Post.

Last night I dreamed I had been confined to an assisted-living facility, and was sitting at some sort of crafts table with a couple old biddies, one on either side of me.

I was trying to write captions for some photos — longhand, on paper, since I had no laptop — and the biddy on my left kept crowding me, piling napkins and letters and whatnot onto my workspace. The one to my right asked me what a young pup like me was doing in the old mutts’ home, and I explained that I had apparently gotten my bell rung in some sort of bike mishap and was being held for observation.

This led to a good deal of cackling, especially after they asked how I was paying for my stay and I said I had no idea. Certainly not by writing those goddamn captions, ’cause I wasn’t making much headway there. If Herself had thrown me over and the Repugs had finally croaked Social Security and Medicare I was in a world of shit. “Golden Girls” meets “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

When I woke up it was in my own bed and Herself was still here, so I made her toast, tea, and oatmeal just to stay on her good side. You never know. There’s a bad moon on the rise.

The cat’s meow

January 14, 2022

Up in the air, junior birdperson. …

This is why I wish I had a better camera.

“Whatchoo lookin’ at?”

I was out for a ride yesterday and noticed a hang glider freshly launched from the Sandia Crest. If you squint you can just barely make him/her out in the upper right-hand corner there. The original iPhone SE camera doesn’t exactly bring ’em back alive. Not from that altitude, anyway.

It was a good day to be above it all. Cyberattacks shut down the Albuquerque schools and FUBARed various Bernalillo County operations; the county clerk is not amused. My fellow Burqueños are back to croaking each other in bulk after setting a record last year that will be hard to top. And I forgot to invoice The Greater Outside+ Vertically Integrated Globe-Spanning Title-Killing Silo O’ Sports & Fitness, LLC, for my final cartoon of 2021.

The good news is, today is a fine day to be a cat in a sunny spot. But then when is it not?

 

R.I.P., VeloNews

January 12, 2022

The first edition of VeloNews in which a cartoon
by You Know Who appeared.

VeloNews was found dead on Jan. 1. It was just 50 years old.

Was it murder? Suicide? Natural causes? (i.e., a slow-moving form of frontotemporal dementia?)

Nah. Darwinism. Nature red in tooth and claw, baby. Or, if you prefer your poetry in the original Sicilian, “It’s strictly business.”

• Editor’s note: A tip of the VeloNews cycling cap to Steve O. for the sharp eye on the velo-news.

Old habits die hard: A continuing saga

January 10, 2022

A quick peek at the Elena Gallegos Open Space,
where I have not been riding.

Bit by bit I’m returning components of exercise to the daily regimen.

I began with walking, the most basic form of locomotion for a biped. Unless you count crawling. This we have all done, at first while diapered, and perhaps later while suffering the side effects of our reality-management system of choice.

Next came cycling, sans hills. Then the jogging. And finally, the cautious lifting of very light weights.

Yesterday I threw caution to the winds and climbed some of the lesser hills in the ’hood, aboard the Soma Saga (canti edition), which has a low end of 20 gear inches. And yes, I used every inch, while dispatching scouts along the spinal column and down the legs to check for sleeper agents in the hamstrings.

Luna. See?

The stretching? Kinda, sorta. The yoga? Mmm, not so much. But as regular readers know, I will never be smart.

My only half-smart moves to date have been (a) to ease back into daily exercise after an extended back spasm, and (2) to avoid the off-road cycling.

When you ride singletrack using rigid steel, drop bars, rim brakes, narrow tires, and equally narrow gearing, you need to use a lot of English (or, in my case, Irish) when negotiating obstacles. If the lower back will not do The Twist you are slam-dancing with yourself in a minefield.

So, yeah. Road bikes. Broad gearing. 38mm tires at 60/65 psi. My running can be identified as “running” only because it seems slightly faster than walking. And my weightlifting? Arnold probably uses a heavier toothbrush.

Meanwhile, speaking of heavy lifting, BRAIN contributor Rick Vosper wonders whether the Bug-boosted, bike-buying bubble is ’bout to burst.

He quotes Jay Townley of Human Powered Solutions as predicting that retailers — suddenly finding themselves overstocked after The Great Product Drought while consumer interest returns to something approximating normalcy — could soon be slashing prices and running sales to attract buyers and reduce inventory, with the financial burden falling “particularly hard on bike shops and small to midsize retailers.”

Rick adds that this does not apply to e-bikes, the industry’s latest shiny object for the wandering eye. Shocking, I know.