Saturday, April 30, 2022


It was the logo on our vehicles.
It was always a Ford. The early 1950s pickup and the 1960 station wagon carried that name plate. Subsequent vehicles though different in style and model displayed the same four letter name. Unwritten and never proclaimed, yet it was clear that Ford vehicles were the Greatest Of All Time.

The drive to be the GOAT not only remains strong, but it has taken on a 

E-Bikes with Harley-Davidson status
chest-thumping and social media bombardment which is relentless. Every aspect of life from the Keto lifestyle to NHL playoff teams are promoted with an evangelical fervor. Once reserved for religious revival meetings, evangelism has spread like the smell of cigarette smoke from the slightly open window of the vehicle passing on the street. This evangelism is not subtle. It is in-your-face, antagonistic tribalism which thrives on strong division. Just as some Christians tout being "born again" as a sign of a genuine believer, equal zeal is woven into providing greatness by blindly following the trite remarks of socially savvy and socially manipulative entities. Our society may use the language of diversity and acceptance, but its actions indicate a moral absolutism. We have dug an ever eroding chasm separating right and left, good and evil, traditionalists and wokes. The Greatest Of All Time has less to do with character and more to do with self-aggrandizement and monetary gain. 

The reason my father stayed with one brand of vehicle was based on two factors. First, but less important was the familiarity with parts and repairs. Interchangeability was an asset when parts either were not readily accessible or needed to be crafted on the farm. The primary reason was the relationship he had established with the owner of the dealership.  It was more than a business or transactional exchange. It had nothing to do with political affiliations or religious beliefs. It was based on mutual respect and a sense of community. There was no need to get ahead at the expense of someone else. The interdependence necessary for people to sense a meaningful life was more important than self-promotion. 

Who was the Gladiator
Estimates predict over a half million people descended upon the extravaganza surrounding the NFL Draft which concluded April 30th in Las Vegas. Getting in on the ground floor, posting a selfie on social media indicating your presence as your beloved franchise chose the next NFL GOAT may be your current claim of significance. Now the NFL and Las Vegas want to make this a permanent, annual venue. All the hype, all the promotion, all the excess because football is the greatest sport and Las Vegas is greatest destination of all time, right?  Those who disagree will vigorously take exception with blatant examples of their own. It is important to be the GOAT, no matter what it takes!

Enjoying the journey
In my current existence I lean more toward gratitude than greatness. The ability to maintain, as well as foster new 
relationships is a priority. I look forward to the time when I do not require a motorized vehicle. Loyalty to name plates, institutions, doctrines, and geography are not as important as personal expansion and understanding. I have no desire to gloat or GOAT. My goal is to find satisfaction in daily experiences.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Bunny Egged Me On


Recent upgrade
Friday morning I made a visit at the local bike shop. Even with the recent winter weather and snow predicted for Sunday, it was an active shop. In conversation one of the mechanics said, "It's two days until 'Ham Day!'" This person looks forward to the feast of ham surrounded by mashed potatoes, ham gravy, and the other trappings of their traditional meal. I mentioned how ironic it was that the defining Christian holiday which changes its day of celebration yearly to remain close to the Jewish holiday of Passover, as well as the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was Jewish, has a traditional meal based on pork.                                                                                              

Instead of ham, my wife's favorite Easter tradition is receiving a chocolate bunny. It has to be quality milk chocolate. When she unwraps it the first part to be eaten are the ears. After the ears, there is no particular portion which comes next. Yet, like an excellent ham, it is nibbled on at various times until it is all gone. At least she does not make sandwiches from the bunny parts!

In 1890, a drug store owner named Robert L. Strohecker displayed what is said to be the first chocolate rabbit in the United States. It stood 5 feet tall. From that point forward the fascination with chocolate bunnies rose even higher. Those who research chocolate bunnies indicate that in 1939, the bunnies began to have hollow interiors. It was a product change which provided easier eating, as well as using less chocolate. Biting through chocolate with a thickness of more than a half inch is extremely difficult, a chocolatier stated. Then in 1942, chocolate bunnies were banned due to the rationing of cocoa for the military. After World War II, the production and sale of these springtime treasures grew faster than rabbits propagate!

Hollow tradition!

In the United States in 2017, 90 million chocolate bunnies were produced. Those who observe such things reported that over 70% of Americans eat the ears first. (My wife is normal after all!) According to the National Retail Federation, in 2021, the average family expenditure for Easter related food and candy was almost $180. Finally, Easter is second to Halloween in candy sales.

Not only are ham and chocolate bunnies interesting, but the Easter Hare backstory is intriguing, as well. According to research by Time, the origins are from one or both legends (English and Germanic) about the Goddess of Spring. These stories are about fertility, new life, change, etc. The Germanic version is the tale of Ostara, who transformed a bird into a hare. The hare produced colored eggs. These eggs would be left at night for the "good" children to find in the morning. Mindful children would leave carrots in a nest to help the Osterhase (Easter Hare) maintain its strength for the journey of delivering eggs. (Connection to the Santa legend with milk and cookies?)

Too sweet!

On a practical level, some scholars believe eggs were hard boiled during the six weeks of the Lenten season for preservation. Due to giving up animal products/proteins during this time, eggs needed to be preserved. Once Lent concluded with Easter, eggs were distributed freely. Some of the eggs were colorfully decorated to symbolize their being special gifts. This was especially noticeable to the peasants who received the oval produce. Wealthier people resumed eating meat and dairy while the impoverished received eggs.  

Church sponsored Easter egg hunts, hard boiled eggs for Easter breakfast, folktales of egg delivering rabbits, as well as gift filled, nest-like baskets make for a fascinating melding of traditions which have no connection to the Biblical New Testament  account of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Is this a bad thing? I do not find it necessary to take a stand about such matters. Humans blend and incorporate traditions from cultures, families, and individuals constantly. We use stories to explain many things. Fascinating, creative, retold stories become the basis for many aspects of life we assume to be true. What is sacred to one group may be ridiculous to another. What is important for an era may be modified or forgotten in the next. What I find key to all of this is the aspect of relationship. We live in community, not isolation. We are enriched, enlivened, and expanded through the sharing of ideas and traditions. In my opinion this is much healthier than rigid, mono-cultural entrenchment. 

So, I will celebrate life today while sharing caramel rolls, glazed ham, and those little eggs filled with peanut butter brought to me by the M&M character!

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Good to be Green


When I think of "green" the image of Kermit the Frog from the Muppets jumps into my mind. A song associated with him, "It's Not Easy Being Green" has these lyrics:

     It's not easy being green having to spend each day the color of the leaves.. it       seems to blend in with so many other ordinary things, and people tend to pass       you over 'cause you're not standing out.  

The desire to stand out, be unique, and be recognized continues as a strong human characteristic. With the plethora of social media platforms, standing out should be relatively easy. Yet, so many postings, pictures, and videos look the same. Could social media be the new "green" which Kermit sings about? With a resounding "NO" posts are ramping up, pushing the limits in risk taking, trash talk, and bizarre activities just to get likes and followers. Going viral and becoming an influencer is the goal.

I recently enjoyed the initial bike ride of 2022. I purchased a new bike in January. It has remained motionless in the garage. I rode my old bike sparingly after October 2021, as I was training for an ultra event on foot. I also did not want my old bike which had been cleaned, serviced, detailed, and polished after Thanksgiving 

The old bike in July 2018
2021 to get dirty. It was going to be posted "for sale" on a few online sites. No need for more than one bike! I enjoyed the sound of gravel crunching under the fat tires. The wind in my face and on my back at various times provided stinging and pushing sensations. Numerous aircraft sounds captured my attention. These prodded me to scan the skies testing my skills of matching the sound to the type of aircraft. My only disappointment was not meeting a friendly dog with whom I had established a relationship during previous rides. Yes, dogs chase bikes. Yes, I have been both nipped at and bitten by canines. However, this particular furry friend enjoys people, attention, being scratched and petted, and striding alongside me for a few yards when we meet. Maybe the next ride will bring our reunion?

The new bike
The many miles covered on foot have provided numerous benefits beyond the physical and mental. Unexpected waves from strangers, whether in vehicles or on foot have boosted my steps. Conversations with strangers on trails and paths have overshadowed the rudeness sometimes experienced from passing motorists. I have met neighbors in the area, as well as established relationships with their four legged fur balls and larger breeds. I have enjoyed the spontaneous laughter, sharing of life events, and expressions of caring during these times. Not every journey includes these happenings. Many times are undisturbed solo hikes. Yet every opportunity to get out on foot or bike is a valuable opportunity

The lyrics of Kermit's song continue:  "green's the color of spring and green can be cool and friendly-like...when green is all there is to be it could make you wonder why, but why wonder why?"

Spring is gaining momentum in the Northern Great Plains. New life, new sights, and new discoveries are part of the season. For me it is what makes this season alive. The times I begin to bemoan being in the statistically last decade or two of my life, I attempt to think green. I want to be imaginative, inquisitive, and awed like someone who is just starting. Being "seasoned" is great for cast iron cookware, but not if it means having my mind made up about life. Being green is not exclusive to recycling. I do not want to reuse past ideas and observations. I prefer to be astonished by what I can incorporate into my life. I want to expand and appreciate each day and each person with whom I have the opportunity to interact. 

It is Good to be Green!