November 2021 – Around in Circles

We had a mighty nice November here in the mid-Atlantic. The foliage seemed to last for weeks. There were no big, blustery storms to blow all the leaves off the trees. The red maples and a few yellow ones, and some stubborn ginko trees were hanging in there to the end. Well played, mother nature.

Riding

As usual, cooler temperatures led to a switch to long pants on bottom and layers on top. I added a key piece of clothing to my bicycling wardrobe and I am really happy I did. Junction Hybrid Cycling pants from REI are a cross between long pants and tights. They fit perfectly. And they seem to be good for a wide temperature range. So far I’ve ridden in wind chills down to 35 degrees F as well as temps in the mid to high 50s F and felt very comfy. The only shortcoming to these gems is a lack of pockets. I would have bought another pair or two but I had to give my daughter something to get me for Christmas. I hope she comes through.

The month began with the last cycling event on my calendar, the Washington Area Bicycling Association’s annual Cider Ride. I began the ride with Barney (real name Kevin). At the first rest stop, Gomer (a. k. a. Michael) caught up to us. (This must make me Floyd the Barber, I suppose.) The weather was mighty fine and so were the warm cider, donuts, and apple pie at the pit stops.

In mid-month I did a one-way, 57-mile ride on the Washington and Old Dominion and connecting trails. The rest of the month included all too many loopy rides on area streets. I did get to check out the extensions to the 15th Street cycletrack in DC however. Earlier in the year it was extended from Pennsylvania Avenue to Constitution Avenue. In November, in a matter of days, a further extension was added across the Mall from Constitution to the Tidal Basin at Maine Avenue. No more dodging tour buses and taxi cabs near the Museum of the African American, the Washington Monument, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Sweet.

For the month I rode 846 miles, mostly on Old Nellie and the Cross Check. For the year, I have ridden 9,564 miles, nearly evenly split among those two bikes and The Mule. The odometer on Old Nellie hit 47,000 miles along the way. If I can manage to average a little over 14 miles per day during December, I’ll hit 10,000 miles. Pedal, pedal.

Off the bike I raked a helluva lot of leaves. This left my body achy. After Thanksgiving dinner in North Arlington, I joined the other feasters on a hilly, half-mile waddle around the neighborhood. My back and legs were screaming at me the entire time. The next day a few friends reconvened for a short hike in the woods at Scotts Run Recreation Area in Mclean, Virginia. I used trekking poles and had absolutely no pain issues. My body is a mystery to me.

Watching

When pondering my medical woes, I watched a few movies on the tube. Worth was pretty interesting. It’s about how 911 victims’ families were compensated after the attacks. As someone who did wrongful death economic analyses as a side gig in graduate school, I brought an unusual personal perspective to the movie. Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci (who’s in more movies: Tucci or Samuel L. Jackson?) and the rest of the cast was terrific.

Next up was Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. I am not big on period chick flicks so it’s no surprise that this one wasn’t really my cup of tea but the acting, set design, and direction were top notch. It has an all-star team of young actors (including Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, and Florence Pugh) and July Johnson, er, Chris Cooper that is (who I’ll watch in anything). So don’t let my meh reaction put you off.

A few weeks ago I read The Vanishing Half, a best seller about two black sisters whose lives diverge when one decides to pass as white. The movie Passing explores similar themes and received decent reviews. I found it to be a disappointment. For the movie to work, you have to be willing to accept that one character passes as white. I never bought this for a second. It seemed cheaply made too. Thud.

Get Back, the Peter Jackson documentary about the Beatles is a technical tour de force. The man can do miracles. His World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old is amazing. He restored 90-year old documentary film. colorized it, added sound including voices (in various appropriate British dialects) synced to the images, and other magic tricks. Being a big time Beatle fan, I couldn’t wait to see what he could do with their film and audio archive from the 1969 Let It Be project. Get Back is every bit as technically amazing as Jackson’s other work. His team “de-mixed” monaural audio to extract conversations and re-produce musical rehearsals with impressive aural clarity. The film is visually crystal clear too. I wish Jackson had done brief film about how he pulled all this off as he did with his WWI film. The tone of Get Back is nowhere near as dark in tone as the old Let It Be film. The Beatles decided to write and record an album live, with no overdubs, on a three-week, self-imposed deadline. What could go wrong? Ultimately, they bring in Billy Preston on keyboards to get around their ban against overdubbing and his joy infects the band. As a five-piece, the band gels instantly. All the while, it’s obvious that this is the end of the line for the group. At about eight hours Get Back is quite an endurance contest for the viewer. If you watch it, break it down into 60- or 90-minute viewings.

Reading

I only managed to read two books. Release by Patrick Ness is a young adult novel about a sexually active, gay teenage boy, the son of Evangelical parents, going through various traumas over the course of a single day. There’s a side story about the spirit of a recently murdered girl. Neither story line worked for me.

A much better book is Amor Towles’ The Lincoln Highway, a novel about the misadventures of teenagers on a road trip to better lives in the mid-1950s. With so many plot twists and calamities, I was impressed that Towles held it all together. Loved it from beginning to end.

Family

My daughter came down from Connecticut for Thanksgiving. She was happy to get away from the grind of her first semester in law school. We visited with my son in Thailand via Facetime. I vaguely remember when my brother Joe called us from Paris in the early 1970s. That was exciting. Facetiming from Thailand seems oddly so routine.

On to December. I have a 46-mile ride on tap for tomorrow.

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