Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for January, 2011

Snowy Hike

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I didn’t ride at all last weekend. In fact, that makes two weekends in a row with no riding. I intended to ride down in Holland, IN with David and Tim, but I wasn’t sure I could actually get there. There is no route there from here that doesn’t involve a lot of small roads, which were probably snow-covered.

And, once I backed out of that ride, honestly, I wasn’t feeling it — I guess I needed a break. I feel better about cycling now. Sometimes you just need a break.

Instead, Sarah and I took our dog, Rob, for a good romp in the snowy woods. Nothing epic, just a fun time. I think Sarah enjoyed watching Rob and I chase each other through the forest.

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After that break, I felt refreshed, physically and mentally. Hopefully I can ramp up the riding again a bit, but damn, I love hiking, too!

Tibetan Cultural Center

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

I was very amused to read recently about JRA placing Tibetan Prayer Flags on his bicycle. The timing seemed like a bit of a coincidence, because Sarah and I had just visited the Tibetan Cultural Center in Bloomington a few days before. I was technically there working on a photography assignment, but Sarah and I both got carried away and we spent a lot longer there than we expected.

The Tibetan Cultural Center is an interesting place, tucked away on a road not too far from town, but in the midst of a small forest. It was founded, and run for many years, by the Dalai Lama’s older brother. I had ridden/driven past the entrance many times but never visited. I’m glad we finally decided to go check it out.

It’s a beautiful, peaceful, wooded spot, so much so that you forget that you are just a couple of miles from the mall. I only submitted two or three of these photos for my assignment, but I want to share more of them here.

One of the first things you see when you enter the property are some prayer flags, like JRA wrote about.

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There are several of these amazing sand paintings, in various places.

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There’s a visitor’s center, and a gift shop. We didn’t visit either this time, preferring to spend our time outdoors.

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Gorgeous designs adorned the narrow drive through the property.

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And, a couple of interesting structures, much like this one. According to their Web site they are “traditional Tibetan Stupas (Tib. Chorten).”

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Close examination of the sand paintings reveals they are three-dimensional.

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A couple of Buddhas add interest.

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There’s another building, I’m not sure what this one is called, but it’s intriguing. According to a sign, the cylinders are “Mani Corlo,” or Tibetan prayer wheels, and they “contain millions of mantras (prayers) for spreading spiritual blessings and well being to all beings everywhere. Each wheel contains millions of imprinted mantras” … ” Each revolution is as meritorious as reading the inscription aloud as many times as it is written on the scroll, and this means that the more mantras that are inside a prayer wheel then the more powerful it is.” It also states that the wheels are to be spun clockwise.

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We spent quite a while admiring the artwork, and of course, spinning the wheels. As a cyclist, I know that spinning wheels can be therapeutic. The same was true here.

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I was amazed at the beauty of the Tibetan Cultural Center, and everything it has to offer. I will definitely be going back to learn more. Conveniently, it’s right along many of my bicycle routes, so it could make for a good place to pause for a few pensive moments during a ride.

Shifting priorities

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Now that I am back in school, everything, fundamentally, has changed. I knew it would be an adjustment, but right now I can’t help but feel like my entire life is in a state of upheaval.

The good news is, almost all of the changes are good. No longer do I spend eight hours per day sitting in one place, in front of a computer. I am studying fascinating topics, and I feel liberated from the boredom I felt from writing code all day. I still enjoy programming, but I’ve realized that it’s not something I want to spend 100% of my time doing, as I have the last few years. I am going in some new and exciting directions, and it feels great.

The bad news is, I haven’t figured out yet how cycling fits into my new lifestyle. I do ride to campus, and to work, and home at the end of the day. That alone nets me about 12 miles per day, five days per week.

At first I was riding from one class to another, regardless of how close together they were. Recently I’ve started parking the bike and walking more. Sometimes I forget how much I love to walk. It’s like cycling, only even slower, and less intense, and it gives you a much better vantagepoint for observing the world around you.

The thing is, I’ve had more homework than I expected. This leaves me less time, and less energy, for riding. I’ve also had a case of the winter blues the last week or two that’s been affecting my desire to ride. My first two weeks of class have also happened to coincide with two of the toughest weeks of the entire winter. It’s been challenging just getting to class, and by the end of the week I don’t much feel like pushing myself, riding-wise. I even set a new personal record on Friday, riding in -1°F temperatures, with -8°F windchill.

Even though it’s frustrating, I’m looking at all of this as a good thing. Cycling has dominated my life, the past few years. This is a great opportunity to focus on improving myself in other ways. I’ll certainly keep riding, but realistically I think it’ll be less than before. I was accustomed to all my time being my own, outside of work. Now, homework is taking up surprising amounts of my time. I will have to fit rides in whenever I can. That’s fine with me, but it’s a tough adjustment to make.

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