Nick David Wright

Living well, laughing often, loving much.

Archive for January 2010

Back to Pedals and Prose

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Okay peoples! Anyone reading here that wants to continue reading my work, head on over to:

http://pedalsandprose.blogspot.com/

Yes, I am the flip-flop king!

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Written by Nick David Wright

January 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Life

Sizing a bike

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If you only want to ride a bike every so often around the neighborhood, then by all means go out and buy any bike you like. I recently purchased an old three speed from a garage sale for $5. I love it … for riding around the block.

But if you’re going to be serious about your riding, or think there’s even the slightest possibility you’ll want to get serious. I have one piece of advice for you: Spend the money to buy a bike that fits you.

When I got serious about bicycling I went to the local bike store and explained what I wanted and they helped me pick a bike. But I made a mistake. When I tried the bike on for size, the only measurement that I knew to check was the height of the top tube.

And from what I understand that will get a reasonable fit for folks with average body proportions. The problem is that I do not have average proportions.

I am relatively tall, measuring in right at 6-feet. But I have short legs. The only reason I buy 30-inch inseam pants is because most stores do not carry shorter lengths in my waist size.

So what I ended up with was a bike that was the right size for my legs, in other words I wouldn’t bust my balls if I slipped off the saddle; but did not fit my upper body at all.

Riding long distances on the thing was not as comfortable as it should have been. I was constantly playing with the handlebars trying to make for better posture for my back, but I never could find that Goldilocks “just right.” And the front wheel would often hit my foot while making a turn.

I’m not really certain what this means as far as my next “serious bike” is concerned. I’ve talked with some more folks and it seems to be the consensus that I need a frame with a longer top tube, to give my upper body more space to spread out in.

So when you’re out looking for a bike, please go to a real bike shop and ask all the questions you can think of. And get a bike that really fits you. It’ll really make all the difference in the world.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 22, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Bicycles

Tagged with , , ,

Spam boy

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The mother moved into the checkout lane and began unloading her cart.

As the items inched towards me on the conveyor belt I noticed her surreptitiously slip a couple cans of behind another product out of view of the young boy sitting happily in the cart.

It piqued my interest as it was obvious she did not want her son to see those cans. And her plan almost worked. They were almost to the scanner when he saw them.

And he let out the most heart-wrenching sobs I’ve ever heard from a kid. These were not your standard “I’m a brat and don’t want that” cries either.

He wailed: “No, mom! Please! No! Not SPAM! Please don’t get SPAM!”

You’d have thought she was buying some kind of torture device.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 21, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Life

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Yoga diary 2

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Weeks 2 and 3 – Jan 19, 2010:

My yoga practice was pretty well sidetracked during the second week of January.

Average temperatures for this region this time of year range from highs of 40s to lows of 20s. That second week we saw highs not reaching double digits and lows in the negatives, and I’m not talking about wind chill either. Suffice to say it was cold.

The problem being that the camper we’re living in was not designed to handle such cold temperatures and we were caught unprepared. And doing yoga on a floor hovering around 50 degrees (at most — with our heaters cranked to max) was not something high on my to-do list.

But thankfully the temperatures have warmed back up (above normal now, we got to 60 today!) and I have returned gratefully to the mat.

I’m still working on the downward dog position. And I think I’m still making progress. In the last post I wrote that I found a more natural position taking up the full length of the mat. But lately I find myself bringing my feet closer to my hands and only using maybe three-quarters. The only reason I can say is that this feels more right to me the longer I practice.

One thing that really surprises me about down dog is how much that pose works the hamstrings. And one thing that yoga has definitely taught me about my body is that I have extremely tight hamstrings.

When I first started working on down dog it was a struggle to get my heels anywhere close to the mat. I’m getting better, and I can almost keep my feet flat now. But I really feel the burn in those particular muscles.

Another thing that working on this has really made me realize is that I need a teacher. I’m doing my best to learn these poses from the books, and trying to judge by feel when I’m doing it right. But I really can’t see myself. My Beloved and I have tried the video thing some more, but what I need is real-time correction while I’m in the pose so that I can get a more direct sense of what I’m doing.

Luckily there is a local yoga teacher. Samantha Gillmore of Life Yoga in Nevada, Mo., offers classes all the time. And she’s also offering a beginner’s course at the local continuing education center starting the middle of February.

I’ve been putting off going to a class mainly because of budget reasons, but if I’m serious about this (and I am) I need to take a class. And that beginner’s course is probably just what I’m looking for.

So in addition to working on down dog this week. I’ve also started the second pose in Yoga Journal’s “Yoga for Beginners,” Utthita Trikonasana, or Extended Triangle Pose.

I worked myself into that pose (or something similar anyway) for the first time today. And I am amazed at the feeling it creates in the chest. I am very excited about continuing to explore the new pose.

Again though I find myself frustrated by my sticky mat that is not sticky. The Extended Triangle Pose calls for a wide stance and I found my feet slipping while trying to hold the posture. Maybe a more sticky mat should be moved higher on my shopping list … along with that class, oh and some blocks. I made-do tonight with a square pillow we have, but it wasn’t quite the same thing as a solid block.

Written by Nick David Wright

January 20, 2010 at 6:06 am

Portion size

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One thing I recognized early in the fight against my expanding waistline was that I ate way too much at meals.

How could I not? Have you seen the size of the portions you get at restaurants? And that’s not even talking about that unique American contribution to cuisine, the “all-you-can-eat buffet.”

Then take into account that it is rather difficult to make a meal for only two people (they have entire cookbooks dedicated to the problem). And it’s really no wonder I find myself gorging until I’m so far past full it hurts.

It’s fairly common knowledge that Americans stand pretty well alone in this habit of eating till it hurts, and that many other cultures do just fine with much smaller portions.

I recently read Michael Pollan’s book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” And he refers to a couple very interesting studies dealing with this problem.

When the folks performing the first study asked people in France how they knew when to stop eating, they replied “when we’re full.”

When they asked Americans the same question, the reply they received was “when the plate is empty.”

In another study some participants were given soup bowls that automatically refilled themselves from the bottom. The diners with the bottomless bowls ate substantially more.

These studies are not all that surprising. Our culture has long demanded that we “clean our plates.” And in the feast-or-famine agrarian society that formed the code, it was logical.

But in our wondrous modern world where a never-ending supply of empty calories which go straight to our bellies are only a snack machine away, the rule doesn’t make as much sense.

I have been making a concerted effort to eat less at meals. But it is a struggle.

Not only do I have to deal with the external forces of plate size, and the looks from meaningful family members who wonder if I’m starving myself. But I also have to deal with my inner demons, I’m one of those people who eat to comfort myself. If I’m stressed out, I want to eat.

I was surprised to find that I was sitting down to eat meals when I didn’t feel hungry. And it came as quite a shock to realize I didn’t know how to tell if I was really hungry or if it was just an emotional craving.

How could I learn to stop eating when full, if I couldn’t even recognize when I got there?

My first step was to master the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Not to say that I never give in to the emotional hunger; I do, and much too often. But at least now I can usually recognize which is which.

The second move I’ve made is to reduce how much I eat. I take less and I try not to go for seconds.

Thirdly, I take longer to eat. Another interesting fact in Pollan’s book is that it takes your stomach 20 minutes to signal your brain that you are full. So no more wolfing down a McDonald’s combo meal (make it large) in 5 minutes.

My Beloved and I are trying to make our meals more of the social occasion they used to be. We talk. And we really try to savor the food. Really, what’s the point in eating if you knock it back so fast you don’t taste a thing? Might as well just hook yourself up intravenously.

It is a constant struggle, but I am making headway. Hopefully I will continue to have to punch new holes in my belt!

Written by Nick David Wright

January 20, 2010 at 5:00 am

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

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Written by Nick David Wright

January 19, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Tunesday

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Helping people

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I recently watched the movie “Unbreakable” again and a certain bit caught my attention.

Bruce Willis is explaining to Samuel Jackson that everyday he feels depressed. Jackson responds that he believes Willis feels this way because he is not fulfilling his destiny by helping people.

This little exchange in the movie struck a chord with me, because I often battle with depression about the direction my life is heading. I often feel as though I am wasting my life. And I’ve recently been wondering if I didn’t feel this way for exactly the same reason as in the movie.

Not that I’m a superhero or anything, but I love helping people.

It can be as simple as helping a customer find the product they were looking for, but the excitement of it can — I kid you not — give me goosebumps. I look for ways to help people everyday. But I want it to be more of my life than it is. I want to be the kind of person that when calamity strikes, I can hop a plane and be there helping people. The recent situation in Haiti comes to mind.

I also think this is why I have such a love/hate relationship with photojournalism. That profession has such a powerful potential to help, but it also has a great potential for harm as well. I wanted to use my photography to help, even if it was just giving someone a pretty picture to look at on the front page.

But that’s not really what sells newspapers. So more often than not I found myself shoving my lens into folks’ disasters, into the face of their grief. And yes I understand that in some macabre way that can actually help by raising other people’s awareness of a crisis, but it’s not something I feel good about.

So I thought, well if I went to Haiti to photograph the disaster I would focus on the recovery efforts instead of people’s loss. But what I realized was that I’d much rather be the person hauling cases of bottled water to people in need instead of the person photographing the person hauling cases of bottled water to people in need.

The problem is that I don’t know how to do this. The kind of life I’ve chosen to live doesn’t earn much money, and I prefer it that way. But that means that I can’t just hop on a flight to haul cases of water. So how can I make my dream of helping a reality?

Written by Nick David Wright

January 18, 2010 at 5:00 am

Posted in Thoughts

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