Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wolf's Grace

The other night when we were sitting down to dinner, my 6-year-old said, "Wait. Before we start eating, everybody join hands."

I'm thinking I don't know where she got this, and I'm not sure I like where it's going. But sometimes you just have to humor your kids.

"OK," she continued, "this is called 'Wolf's Grace.' Everybody howl like a wolf."

So we consecrated our meal with the call of the wild before digging in.

There was a time when I couldn't have imagined how much more awesome life would be with children. It turns out that being the Alpha of my own little pack is pretty great.

This was originally posted to my Google+ stream. But I felt like it would be worthwhile to post it here as well. My apologies to those who've ended up reading this twice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rite of Spring

It's the Vernal Equinox, which among other things, means that it's time for me to part ways with my winter beard.

I started growing this beard (or rather, stopped shaving it off) at the end of October during our trip to Argentina. Aside from a little trimming around the mouth and on my neck, it has been given free rein to thrive.

And thrive it did. It kept me warm on numerous hikes and early morning runs. But the winter is over (officially), and as the cold weather goes, so goes the beard. I rather enjoyed having the facial hair, though, so I decided to keep some of it.

No, not really. But I did think about it.

I feel like a young man again. But I've gotta say: my face looks tiny now. (It took a while to figure out where the kids had put my Noogler hat; thus the change of clothes between pictures.)

After shaving, I took the trimmings out back and burned them as an offering to Ostara. The ashes were sprinkled into the garden soil to bring fertility in the coming year.

No, not really. But I did think about it.

Those who know me will be aware that I just don't have it in me to follow any kind of religious or spiritual path. I've tried several times through my younger years. But I do like to observe the rhythms of the earth and celebrate the things that each season offers. So today I bid a fond farewell to the Winter and greet the Spring with open arms. I'm looking forward to all of the warm-weather riding, running, hiking, and anything else I can get myself into in the coming months.

I'm also looking forward to tonight's traditional spring feast with carrot cake for desert.

Happy Spring, everyone!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

By the light of the Moon

While I was out running this morning, I was reminded me of a neat fact I learned not too long ago.

Looking south, here's roughly what the moon looked like when I set out:

A little later, it looked like this:
The moon is making its way toward the west. And later still, it would look like this:

Notice the way it rotates as it moves across the sky. The interesting thing is that if you imagine a line running between the points of the moon and extend that line down, where it intersects the horizon is due south.
Obviously, this technique is useful for orientation only when the moon is visible and not full. But I often find myself using it to get my bearings when I'm out before sunrise on the winding paths that cut through the grid of Thornton's city streets.

It could come in handy some day. And if nothing else, it is, as Tristan Gooley describes it, a neat party trick.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Seeking out the Difficult

February was National Heart Health Month, or something like that. Now I know you're thinking, "Jeremy, that was so last month." Yes, I know, but stick with me, here.

In observance of the heart-health campaign, we had a jump-rope contest at work. I hadn't jumped a rope in many years, and I'm not really all that coordinated, so I wasn't surprised that I didn't come anywhere close to winning the contest. That isn't the point.

The point is that several of us (and I'm talking about guys who are in pretty decent shape) were shocked that jumping rope turned out to be so strenuous. I felt my heart rate skyrocket almost immediately. And the thing I kept hearing from everyone wasn't how much it sucked, but, "Wow! I need to do that more often!"

In all things that require practice, one must train for his or her weaknesses rather than strengths. If a musician is a wizard at running scales, perhaps her practice time is better spent working on voice leading. If a cyclist is a strong climber, sprinting might be a good focus for training.

Apparently moving forward is something of a strength for me, while jumping up and down in one place was somehow overlooked as an area in which I'm weak. So on Friday, a couple of us went down to the workout room and busted out the jump ropes once again for some serious hopping.

If we keep it up, I might be able to make it through the Deceptacon dance without having a heart attack.

Perhaps the best kinds of goals are those which target the Difficult and aim to turn it into a Strength. Or at least let us do those hard things without it being a total shock to the system.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


When we push our limits - when we go beyond our current boundaries - we are exploring the unknown.

If I go just one mile farther this time, how will my body react? What will I see if I climb just a little higher? If I spend one more hour on this project, what might I accomplish? Can I do this repair myself?

There's only one way to know for sure.

Most of the time, there's no real penalty for trying. In the best case, we discover that we are capable of a little more than we thought we were, and our boundaries are redefined. The worst that will usually happen is that we fail, and in so doing, we learn that the boundary we've been operating at is real (and we've been kicking butt this whole time).

Both scenarios create opportunities to set new goals.  Boundaries and limits are temporary, and the Unknown is just a chance to find out.

A couple of weeks ago I was proud to have broken the 17-mile mark on my weekend run. Today I found out what 18.5 feels like. It hurts, but soon I will do more.