Mysteries of the Bicycle Explained #4. (Podcast Link + Commentary)

Mysteries of the Bicycle Explained #4: Coffeebike

I’ve tried to write about what it’s been like to live in the USA in 2003, or , say, some time between 2002 and 2004. I’ve found our times have been quite stressful, not just because of 9/11 itself, not just because of the Iraq War, but the reality problem that suffocated our public culture. I’m not the only one who observed it. It made me physically ill for awhile. This strange form of mental oppression began to fade in the latter half of 2004, although the other problems, as you know, continue. And they were made worse, possibly insoluble, by the climate of insanity that ruled public discourse.

“Mysteries of the Bicycle Explained” #4 is a story called “Coffeebike”. A magazine here in Oregon published it in 2003. I think it was that year. It tries to use humor to examine the civilian stresses of our time of war.

I’ve written about the more subtle, psychic oppressive feelings in a graphic novel in collaboration with Portland cartoonist Neal Skorpen. It’s not quite finished yet. Poor Neal has a ton of work to do! I’m excited about that project.

I think we live in radically unusual times worth trying to understand and record through art.

Tangentially, one part of life that may not be obvious, which I enjoy a lot, is the sense of history sweeping around us. It astounds me over and over.

Humor, satire, comedy are excellent ways to try to understand what is happening.


Friday Guinea Pig Blogging

Here are Ludwig (left) and Schubert (right) taking a noon snooze after tearing down their hay rack and eating all the Timothy Hay. They’ve been quite excited about Springtime, the little birds known as Bushtits flitting around the window, the carrots coming frequently from my hand… Both boys are making progress tolerating my love of them. Sometimes even Ludwig lets me pet his fuzzy head. Schubert licks my hand sometimes, with little licks that seem possibly preparatory to biting with his tile-snip teeth, making me laugh and move away nervously… They both lie flat now, less squirmy, when I take them out to watch their favorite show, the Leher News Hour. When I play “The Young Turks” talk show on my computer, or shout at my computer as I did when it bombed last week, or when I speak with my clients on the phone, they perk up and start talking back. I think they have a good life, as this picture, a couple weeks old, shows. But it just became a little more unsettled…

A stray cat entered our office team last night… She’s about six months old, I think… Quite a nice, affectionate, spritely youngster… She hasn’t revealed her name yet. The people who found her had guinea pigs, and I saw with my own eyes this feline applicant sniff them without malice or excitement. It was either adopt her to our team, or let her go to a shelter. That was what decided it.

Will everyone become friends? I’m not giddy with optimism of bending the laws of predator and prey, but it can happen.

Sorry, no cat picture! My camera is broken. I’ll work on that issue. And the name…

Published in: on March 23, 2007 at 10:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Guinea Pig Blogging

Salt “lick”? or Salt chew?


The guinea pigs love their salt lick.  Their teeth are like tile-snips. No wonder the salt lick looks so ravaged.  Yesterday I watched Schubert licking and chewing it. Then he ran to the water bottle tube and drank. Then he ran back to the salt lick. Lick. Water bottle. Salt. Water. Finally he stopped. Ludwig had been watching. Ludwig went over the salt lick. Then he went to get a drink.  By this point I ambled out of the room. The guinea pigs were quite sure I was going to bring them some red leaf lettuce and began squeaking with anticipation. I returned, however, without lettuce. They stared at me with disbelief. Did I not go into the kitchen? And was not there red or possibly green leaf lettuce in the kitchen? Then how could I possible not return with red leaf lettuce.  I tried to ignore them. Who is the boss?  They began to protest.  Little interlocutory squeaks became Wheeks and Whistles. Wheek, Wheek! We know our rights, the guinea pigs were saying.  I sighed and went back for green leaf lettuce.  Seeing it in my hand as I approached, the piggies were my best friend.  They ate it all in about 90 seconds.

In general, there’s a little more vivacity to their behavior…why? Spring fever, my friends. The weather is a bit warmer (60s F) and there’s been a lot of sunshine (despite the frequent rain).  The GPs feel it, and share their joy.

A few times a week I have phone conferences with my clients and their clients. I read market scripts to them all. My guinea pigs perk up when they hear talking and they want to talk too.  They are my office assistants, after all.  So, habitually, what I do is cut up several lengths of carrots for them right before the conference.  The second before it starts, I give them the food.  While I’m reading the script aloud and “with feeling”, I hear chew chew chew chew chew nearby. This week, right before the meeting started, I handed my assistants their office carrots… but the client didn’t show up on time… we rescheduled for later in the afternoon.   By that time, I had run out of carrots.  So I had to go through the phone meeting with nothing but hay for the GPs…  And to my surprise, the GPs forgot all about their carrot rights. Full of spring fever, they began chasing each other madly. Up and down the ramp, jumping, following and chasing. Fortunately they did not start clicking their teeth angrily at each other. Instead, they started doing that very pleasant burbling they do. My meeting went well.  And I picked up some more veggies for my staff.

Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Things I Wrote About Recently, & Things I Yet Want To…

Recently I wrote about organic food, recruitment of engineers, steel containers, and the architecture of the “man : machine” interface. I also wrote about investment strategies, insurance software, and card transaction readers. The list goes on. I’m quite happy to have that work. It helps pay the mortgage. It’s excellent idea-factory work. The guinea pigs and I want to keep doing it.

But I did not yet write in this blog about “Guns, Germs, Steel, and Guinea Pigs”. Nor “The Sound of Color: Autistic Savants & Bely’s St. Petersburg“, nor “Tolstoy’s Ability to Capture Vague but Palpable Awareness of Interconnected Patterns of Life’s Self-Purported Significance in War & Peace Vol.2″, nor the provocative “The Increasingly Banal Roster of Novelists: Some Hung, Some Felons, All Rascals Or Worse”. I also didn’t finish writing my latest absurdly-heroic bicycle story. And I didn’t record any new podcasts, from my list of available scripts…

Meanwhile, here is another responsive link where you can download the 11 MP3 files of “Skull of the Robot”.

I have to earn money. Meanwhile, I’m almost done with War & Peace, Vol. 2.

Published in: on March 8, 2007 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment