Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014

Staying on the Left Side, which Is Right

It's about time for my annual update to this blog.  You probably thought I'd forgotten about it, but I haven't.  I'm just lazy.

In the little town where I grew up, my grandparents on my mother's side lived only a couple of blocks from us.  We'd go to visit them just about every day.  When I was a little kid, probably around eight or ten, my grandmother would occasionally take me and my sister (and maybe my brother, too. I'm not sure about him.  I think he was too young) for a walk in the late afternoon.  We'd walk just a short distance, though it seemed pretty far at the time, from her yard to a spot near the railroad tracks.  There was a concrete square there, with a low concrete wall on three sides, where someone, probably the railroad, kept piles of gravel of two or three sizes.  

We always walked on the left side of the street.  When we reached the gravel piles, my grandmother would let us mess around in them for a while, and then we'd cross the street (after looking both ways) and walk back to her house.

There were two things she'd say to us every time.  One was about crossing the street.  "Always look both ways before crossing the street," as you might have guessed from the parenthetical comment just above.  The other was, "When you're walking and there's no sidewalk, always face the approaching car."  I can still her her saying it even now.  She must have said it every time we went for the little walk.  Anyway, it stuck with me.  Something similar was even on the book covers that they gave us each year in grade school.  With a handy illustration in case you needed help figuring it out. (Do people use book covers anymore? Probably not.) 

People could use those book covers now, though.  The little rule that I learned so young seems to have been completely forgotten.  I must be the only person in the world whose grandmother laid down the rules for him or who saw those book covers because every single person I see walking or jogging is on the wrong side of the street.  Every single one of them.  This bothers me, and not just because I'm OCD.  It bothers me because it seems dangerous, especially on narrow streets with no shoulders, which is just about every street in Alvin, Texas.  It's scary enough to encounter a car on them when you're facing it.

There's nothing I can do about it, though.  I'm not going to tell people that they're in the wrong.  This is Texas.  They might be armed.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What's Going On?

Here's something that happens all too often.  So far this year, three times, I believe.  

I'll be shuffling along at my usual old man's pace and I'll see a car stopped at a stop sign on a side street a block or two blocks away.  

I keep shuffling.  

The car doesn't move.

I can guarantee one thing, however.  As soon as I get just about in front of the car, it will move forward.  Until then, the driver is completely unaware of me, or of anything else as far as I know.

Because of my experience in these matters, I've avoided being hurt, mainly because I turn and go around the car.  Or I would if it just stayed put.  It never does, though.  It invariably takes off when I get there.

So the question is, what's the driver doing until I arrive?  If I were paranoid, I'd think he was waiting for me, but I'm not paranoid.  What does that leave?  Texting?  Talking on the phone?  Daydreaming?  Napping?

I don't know, but today there happened to be a car coming in my direction down the street I was on.  I thought sure there was going to be a collision, but the driver on the cross street woke up or quit texting in time to stop the car.  I went on around and on my shuffling way.

Monday, September 03, 2012

New Word

My jogging pace has inspired me to create a new verb: to tudball, as in "Today I tudballed for about 40 minutes."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Two Things

This morning while out for my little jog, I saw two unusual things.  

The first one was something I'd never seen before, though I'm kind of surprised I hadn't: a kid texting while riding a bicycle.  The bike was coming toward me, and I saw it from some distance away.  It was weaving quite a bit, and when it got a little closer, I saw that the rider had only one hand on the handlebars.  The other hand held a cell phone, and he was texting with his thumb.  I wasn't surprised.  I expect I'll see this again.

The second was something I hadn't seen in years: a man mowing his lawn while smoking a cigarette.  He had both hands on the mower handles, and the cigarette was clamped in his mouth.  I was a lot more surprised at this sight than at the other one.  Both of them told me something about how much things had changed during my lifetime.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie

In my long career on the road I've encountered lots of beasties. I've frightened a flock of wild turkeys, I've come upon more than my share of rattlesnakes (my share = none), I've been buzzed bombed by a hawk, I've been chased by mockingbirds, and I've of course had dealings with dogs without number. But yesterday was a first.

I was cruising along at my usual speed (.0000001 mph) when I saw a young cat, maybe about three-fourths grown, stalking something in the grass. The cat saw me, too, and it didn't like what it saw. (Not that I blame it.) It crouched back down and went into stalking mode again, but it kept glancing my way. Finally it decided that whatever it was stalking wasn't worth meeting me for, and it took off for parts unknown. I kept going, and when I got to the spot where the cat had been looking, a mouse popped out of the grass.

It looked just like a Disney mouse, chubby and happy (no wonder), and it scampered along the street beside me for a couple of steps. Then it veered off and slipped through the grate of a storm drain.

I went on home, and when I arrived, I saw an earthworm squirming on the pavement of my driveway, just about to cook in the sunshine. I picked it up and put it in the grass by the driveway, where it immediately started boring into the rain-softened ground. Two minuscule lives that will go on a little longer.

In Aurora, Colorado, a crazy man had killed twelve people only hours earlier. He'd wounded dozens more and left hundreds with psychic scars. It doesn't balance, does it? It doesn't come within a million miles. I guess you just do what you can.

Friday, October 28, 2011

40 Years on the Run

It just occurred to me this morning that this month marks an important anniversary in my life. I don't know the exact date. If I'd known it would be important, maybe I'd have written it down. But I didn't know, and I didn't write it down. Maybe it's today. Not that it really matters. What happened is this: One day in October 1971, 40 years agone, I went out for a run and never came back.

Okay, I came back, but I've been going out regularly, five or six days a week ever since. If moderate exercise will keep me in good health, I should be pretty dang healthy. I've been pounding the pavement for 40 years now. If nothing else, I have sturdy calf muscles.

I can remember exactly what I was wearing that first day. The first cool front of the fall had come through, and I had on a pair of wheat-colored jeans that there's no way I could squirm into now, a paisley shirt (long sleeves), and a pair of rubber-soled canvas shoes that I'd used to play handball in when we lived in Austin.

My plan was simple: I'd run as far as I could, then turn around and walk back home. I took off from the end of my driveway, turned right and ran down Ninth Street to Indian Creek Road. I turned left and ran until I couldn't run any more. I figured I'd gone at least a mile. Maybe two. I was quite pleased with myself as I started the long walk back.

When I got home, I got in the car and measured the distance. I was amazed. One-fourth of a mile? How could that be? Surely something was wrong with the odometer, or maybe I'd just looked at it wrong when I started out. I turned around and drove home to check it again.

Sure enough, I'd gone one-fourth of a mile. Not exactly the heroic effort I thought. Oh, well, now I knew there was room for improvement. I'd go out again the next day and do better.

I did go out the next day, but I didn't do any better. I didn't want to strain myself. I'd wait until the next day to improve, but I already knew there'd be a next day. What I didn't know was that there would be a next day for 40 more years.

And there'll be another one tomorrow.