Thursday, February 28, 2013

Heavy Load?

It's been over two years since I mentioned the trip my wife & I took to Ethiopia (back in 2010).  During this morning's walk I was thinking about that trip to Addis & the 2 day excursion we took (with a group) to some of the ultra-rural areas outside the city.  That's where you'll see something that's about as unAmerican as it gets—people (mostly women & children) carrying jugs.  Big, plastic water jugs.  And, yes, they were walking...and walking...and walking...who knows how far?  Obviously, I could go on & on about how easy we have it in America, walking a few feet (usually) to turn on a tap with seemingly endless clean water.  But, for now, I'd like to think of the sheer effort & endurance it must take to lug that water around.  And here I am complaining every few days about how heavy my book bag is.  I'm usually good for at least a block, and then it hits me.  "Man, is there something extra in my bag today?," I wonder.  Sometimes I take a mental inventory of what might be in there.  Usually, it's the usual.  Laptop being the heaviest culprit.  I guess there are thousands of Ethiopians who'd love to be carrying a macbook instead of water jugs.  And I imagine they'd love to be walking a measly 4 blocks instead of 4 kms.  Shame on me for complaining.  My walk to work could be much, much heavier.

Some of my long-time followers will remember when I used to keep track of fellow walkers—not people who are out for exercise, but those actually going places...the precious few who decided to walk here or there instead of drive.  I'm going to start the tally again for old time's sake...

Fellow Walker Sightings: 1   The guy had a backpack (hopefully not too heavy) & was probably walking home from campus.

P.S.   This morning's walk was almost entirely litter-free, which is great.  Within a hundred yards of the library, I found an abandoned coffee cup (Jazzman's).  Its new home is a library wastebasket.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Heard an NPR radio piece this morning dealing with getting exercise into our lives, specifically our kids' lives.  The first mom interviewed talked about driving here & there (all week long) in an effort to keep her kids active...for example, taking kids across town to basketball practice.  She lamented how much of the time is actually spent driving, though, instead of exercising.  She described all that commuting as pretty much 'wasted' time.  The next interviewee was a mom who lived in a neighborhood in which she (and kids) could walk seemingly everywhere they the park, the hospital, stores, etc.  She didn't mention a "library," but I'm sure she was thinking it :-)  In fact, they didn't even own a car.  She spoke about the deliberate "decision" her family made when they were looking for a home to be close to all those resources.

It made me think of my own family's decision to live close enough to campus for me to walk.  I remember how difficult it was on our realtor (poor guy).  He had all these neat houses in our price range that he just knew we'd like—houses that were across town or just outside of town.  I'm sure he wondered, "What's the big deal with being close to campus, anyway?"  It's a cultural thing for the most part.  Counter-cultural, that is.  Was our house the nicest we could've bought in town?  Most bang for our buck?  Not even close.  But it was close to several things we could walk to...campus, post office, pharmacy, grocery store, a hardware store, and even an auto repair shop.  Like family #2 (above), we get a lot of our exercise naturally, without having to drive to a gym or a park, etc.  All because of a tough 'decision' we made 11 years ago.  I reaped the benefits this morning—on my walk to work.

P.S.  Cleaned up the Taco Bell cup that I chose not to pick up on Monday.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Walking Without a Police Escort...

During my calm & peaceful walk to the library this morning, I was thinking about some kids whose walk to the library isn't so calm & peaceful.  I heard about them in a recent blog post from a public media outlet in California.  Here's how the story began...

"Elementary school students and teachers from New Highland Academy in Oakland marched to the local library Thursday...with a police escort. They used to take the six-block walk every third Thursday, but gun violence in the neighborhood halted the monthly outings."

The kids even did some brainstorming about the walk, listing the Pros & Cons of making the library trip.  The accompanying pic (above) is a snapshot of their perspective.  Their talk of violence, guns, mean dogs, etc. made me much more thankful for the predictably boring walk I take every day.  A few years ago, I  was visiting with an FHU grad student (a single young lady) who walked about 8 blocks to campus every day, and she explained how she would alter her path every few be less predictable...just in case there was someone watching & trying to figure out her pattern.  I didn't tell her how shockingly paranoid that sounded (to me) in our quiet, little town.

That wouldn't be so paranoid for some people, these Oakland, CA kiddos.  Yesterday, I kinda lamented the fact that I live (and walk) in a town where everyone knows everyone & there's little anonymity.  Today, though, I'm thankful for all the small town atmosphere I walk in.  No police escort necessary.  Who cares if someone I know sees me picking up trash on the side of the road?  At least no one's going to threaten me with a gun as they drive by.   

Weather report:  Not too cold, but so windy it could mess up the hair on a bald guy.

P.S.  Delittered only a bit today.  I think the wind blew most of our litter to the next county.  Found an empty pack of Swisher Sweets cigarillos, though, and promptly disposed of it.  Not too familiar with cigarillos, but if I ever took up smoking, I'd have to go with a name like "Swisher Sweets."

Monday, February 25, 2013


Trying to redeem myself from last week's "sin" of not picking up some super-sized litter (milk jug) on my walk to work.  And it was all because of the impression it might make on passersby.  About those occurred to me this morning that it's not (just) that the odds are good that someone might see me walking down the street with an empty milk jug & think, "That's weird."  It's more about the odds that whoever saw me would actually know me.  More along the lines of "That Wade guy is weird."  It's a small town thing, I guess.  Most everybody knows most everybody.  Not making excuses, though.  I still need to get over it.

This morning, it took me a while to "get over it."  I was about a block from the house...on the lookout for the milk jug.  I thought that would be the perfect redemption story—to pick it up almost a week after ignoring it initially.  It was nowhere to be found.  But in its place (in front of the same house) was a paper cup from a fast food joint.  Just as I approached it, a car approached me.  I chickened out & kept on walking.  I made up for it (hopefully) by snagging 4 bits of trash before reaching the library—a Newport cigarettes package, a withdrawal envelope from a local bank, a cup from Sonic, and a Jazzman's coffee cup holder.  Quite a haul.  Redemption is sweet!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Too Much Thinkin' 'bout What People Think

Last Monday I was on my way to work when I passed a house with an empty milk jug in the front lawn...about a foot away from the sidewalk. I thought, "Boy, that looks bad. Makes the neighborhood (my neighborhood) look trashy." But I kept on walking. Didn't stop. Didn't stoop. Didn't pick up that jug, because there wasn't a trash can within 2 blocks of where I was. I thought, "I'd be walking with that jug forever! Who knows how many people might see me & think, What's with the jug?" In other words, I was thinkin' too much about what others think...which is my biggest hang-up, I know. Why am I confessing? Because I'm going to spend the next week of walking trying to make up for that jug. Bring it on! The more jugs the better! My successes (and failures) will be shared right here. Wish me luck.   P.S.  Started this blog exactly 3 years ago yesterday—on Feb. 22, 2010.