Unthanksgiving Day

November 25, 2017 Comments Off on Unthanksgiving Day

Sometimes the mood overtakes me and I make a list of things I’m grateful for. I usually post it on Thanksgiving Day. But other times a different mood overtakes me and I make a list of things I’m ungrateful for. I keep that list to myself.

But not today!

  1. I’m very ungrateful for the shabby state of our democracy, led by a bully with a yeast infection where his brain should be.
  2. Super ungrateful for not winning the Latigo Hillclimb by a lot of minutes.
  3. I’m way ungrateful for the people who designed Chinese, which is basically unlearnable, at least by me, despite hundreds of hours and thousands of wasted dollars.
  4. My ungratefulness knows no bounds when it comes to the lady who sat in front of me on the way to Austria, demanding that the flight attendant remove the lady who had a crying baby. Remove him to where, lady? We’re in a fucking airplane.
  5. Lots o’ ungratefulness when I reflect on the Lunada Bay Boy on Mom’s Couch who tried to run over my wife while she was descending Via del Monte this morning.
  6. I am ungrateful for global warming. It’s not “climate change,” asshole, it’s “we’ve turned earth into a boiling cauldron and we’re all stuck in the middle of it.”
  7. Ungrateful for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all sales of every kind, everywhere.
  8. I am decidedly unthankful for the NRA and the whackjob gun lobby. I don’t like your fake rendition of the 2nd Amendment and all the dead people that result from it, like the lady today who was “mistaken” for a deer while walking her dog and killed.
  9. Big unthankfulness over here in the cheap seats for TV.
  10. No thanks whatsoever for drivers who endanger cyclists, injure and kill them, and prevent the spread of more bicycling for more people in more places.
  11. Huge helping of thanklessness for everyone who didn’t vote and is now “outraged” by the composition of the judiciary, Congress, and the executive branch.
  12. Not feeling much gratitude right this minute for “pro” bike teams that don’t pay their women racers. A lot.
  13. Zero mindfulness/thankfulness/appreciation for Serfas, who, although they keep replacing them for free, also keep sending me tail lights that don’t last very long.
  14. I am hereby ungrateful for doctors who overprescribe antibiotics. And opioids.
  15. Ungrateful, here and now, for getting weaker and slower every year. But nominally pleased not to have yet been served with the alternative.
  16. Unappreciative of #socmed and all the YEARS that I donated to #facebag, #stravver, and #thetwitter.
  17. Not very happy about the thorn in my front tire that I didn’t find until it resulted in two flats.
  18. And of course I’m ungrateful for Merkel’s failure to form a governing coalition. Adios, world’s last functioning social democracy.
  19. Okay, I ran out at 18, so I’ll finish it with the one thing I’m daily grateful for: Being alive in this amazing world … defects notwithstanding, it’s a great place to be!



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Of sandpipers and the ocean’s waves

November 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

In another space and time I was a birdwatcher, and co-authored a book with two of the finest living field ornithologists called “Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.” The book was called that, not my co-authors. Their names are Robert Behrstock and Ted Eubanks. Despite my involvement in the project, it was published by the highly respected Texas A&M University Press.

I wouldn’t call it an NYT bestseller…

My youngest son has to do a project for his eighth grade science class, and Ted suggested a bird survey from RAT Beach to the Pier that counted the ratio of adult to juvenile Heerman’s Gulls throughout the four-month study period. Once a week my son makes the two-mile trek along the beach, carefully counting and recording the gulls.

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I accompanied him. It’s been several years since I went birdwatching, and I had forgotten what a peaceful and awe-inspiring pastime it is. At one point we stopped to watch a small flock of Sanderlings dash out with the receding waves, nab the hapless, tiny crustaceans and mollusks exposed in the mud, and run back to safety just a half-step ahead of the onrushing, incoming waves.

The extraordinary work and effort it took for each bird to get a bite made me pause. For these tiny birds there is no unemployment insurance, no Social Security for old age, not even a fridge to store the food in case they’re sick or laid up for a few weeks. Each day is the same day. Eat what you kill or starve. Lameness or sickness is certain death.

A little farther we spied a pair of Whimbrels, and then over the jetty there was a foursome of Black Oystercatchers. The final flock, just before the pier, contained the highlight of the day: a delicate Bonaparte’s Gull, with its dainty pink legs, standing amidst the much bigger Heerman’s and the oversized Western gulls. So much beauty and toughness and ruggedness passed down through millions of years in microscopically jellied dabs of DNA, waiting on the edge of a cold ocean for whatever food, if any, the waves might offer up. These creatures would survive another day with no accoutrements to assist their survival other than their wits, their instinct, and strength of their limbs.

I thought about rolling down the coast highway wrapped in every conceivable fabric, oiled with specialty creams, pedaling a machine that required the cooperation of an entire global economy to fabricate, assemble, and deliver between my legs. I froze in that quicksand moment of time, overwhelmed with thanks at being there with my son, at having the health and pleasure of an avocation like cycling, at having children and a wife who are the people they are. Through the sanderlings, dashing undaunted as they foraged in the waves, I was able to give thanks, thanks for all, thanks to all.

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