7.03.2007

the algorithm in my head


the algorithm in my head...

riding a bike can be a set of problems
a moving puzzle with various solutions

tonight I zipped out of work and met the family at the movies
not sure of our plans I had lisa bring a lock from home
the theater in georgetown under k street was convenient
convenient for all
close to home
close to work
all with the movie we wanted to see playing a few minutes after I was scheduled to leave work

the timing was perfect for meeting up with the family
they were at the door with hands full of candy from the consession stand
lisa handed me the lock which I had requested her to bring
I stepped back outside and locked things up and removed my headlamp from my handlebars and my helmet from my head
as I stepped in to purchase a ticket I signaled to lisa to take the boys and get a seat
still thinking at this time that the movie was set to start at 7:15

I rush in to find my seat with the previews just beginning
we chomp skittles and sour patch kids for nearly 20 minutes of previews
then a pixar short
it was only at that moment that I realized that ratatoullie was going to be a pixar film
pixar rocks

I settled in for the preview by inviting grant to sit in my lap
this putting him higher as well as keeping him warmer in the frigid theater
and well
hopefully he enjoys the companionship as much as I do
and well
his little body kept my body warm too

the film was fantastic
perhaps better than cars

at the end of the film we filed out the door
parting at the sidewalk
I emptied my backpack as the family walked to the car
while lisa was strapping in grant I was putting on my helmet
while dean was clipping in his own seat belt I was putting on my gloves and setting up my handlebar mounting headlamp
them maybe even getting on the bike

dean is not always so quick with clipping his seat belt
he is quick with the task
but dean is not always quick with starting the task

so off the sidewalk and onto the street
with whitehurst freeway above me I marveled at the urban setting around me
I often forget that I live in an urban enviroment
not suburban
not semi-urban
but urban
dc is not new york
but dc is a city

on the road I watch for car and pedestrian traffic
watching out for cars looking for spaces
looking out for cars pulling out of spaces
always aware of which cars are occupied
always preparing myself for evacuation of the door zone in an effort to avoid getting doored
pedestrians will cross anywhere... usually without looking... never anticipating the bicycle

I roll through the stop signs with caution and courtesy
cars are backed up with some stop and go traffic at the four way stops
I roll through like a ghost
not causing any of the cars to slow, speed up, or stop on my account
my pace and position adjust to keep a flow

cars pass me as I move to a more open stretch of road
headed up a number street of no consequence I climb two blocks out of potomac level to street level
passing mile one of the c&o canal

I debate with cutting through the park on a path towards the p street beach or taking the streets
pedestrian traffic on the path and sidewalk has me feeling that the street would be the more fluid way to roll

I continuce to climb the mellow grade
cars pass only to get stuck at the stop signs and lights
each passing car gets the same observations
my mind runs an algorithm

a car passes
in a glance I take in the variables
make/model/year
condition and color
as the car passes I access the driver's position and the number of people in the car
one is the standard number of occupants
more than two people is so unusual that it looks awkward, like clowns packed into a car at the circus
the driver gets the most attention as I check their attention
do they see me? where are there hands? where is their focus?
as they pull forward I check the tag and the bumper
bumper stickers tend to amuse me
bumper stickers may give me some insight into the mind of the driver
bumper stickers often guide my obsceneties if they do something inconsiderate towards me or something that puts me at risk then I have more information to deliver a message that suits the driver
custom cussing
no rubber stamp
they get a custom verbal attack

another car passes
this car gets the same algorithm
the information is stored
each car gets accessed than cataloged

I pass the cars that passed me
again I get to make further measure of what I am dealing with
the first encounter dictates the next encounter
often the first encounter dictates how I will avoid the next encounter
the person who sees me can be as much of a threat as the person who does not see me

this is not a game
this is survival
not to be dramatic
it is just the way it is

it is best not to relax
it is best to remain focused
a second without focus means getting blindsided or cut off
must remain focuses
must remain aware
must put the bicycle in the safest spot
avoiding the point of intersection
avoiding danger
pick the safe way through
like a chess game always thinking a few moves ahead
often knowing what the car driver is going to do even before they know what they are going to do
idiots and assholes are easy to predict

the short several mile ride home finishes without incident
there are some standard close calls
not by my running a stop sign or running a red light
the close calls usually come from inconsiderate or obnoxious drivers
an intentionally close pass made at speed
an aggressive driver taking a right turn in front of me out of turn
the car pulling ahead then pulling over... a classic taxi cab move
but cab drivers are zombies
zombies are easy to predict and just as easy to avoid
almost not worth hating
but I hate them just the same


I arrive home
the house is dark as I put my bicycle away
my ride gets me home faster than the car delivers my family
brutus greets me with a shoe in his mouth
we walk upstairs to greet the family together

the kids are in bed
now I am going to have a glass of red wine
red wine is good for clearing my head of all the details
all the make/models/and years
all the hands on the steering wheels
all the cell phones
all the braille dashboards

the movie was fantastic
maybe better than cars

ratatouille
the use of the bicycle in european culture was part of the story
as the use of the bicycle in european culture is part of their life
the bicycle was just part of the background
just as the bicycle is part of the background of their actual lives
apple has several trailers

now for that red wine

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