In Fremont we Scissor Truss

My computer is called ‘The Escalade’ because it is huge. It is fat and heavy and has a big power supply. Right now I took the ‘sclade upstairs so I could type this while hanging out with Lucy as she watches The Red Shoes with Jean. Is this going to make Lucy want to be a dancer?

The trouble with taking the ‘sclade anywhere is although it is a laptop it chews through power and the battery doesn’t last long. So I have to get my point down fast. Please excuse typos and grammatical errors.

Today I took my bike out for a ride. I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I had a bike lock, my ipod, notepad, pen and a couple of books to read. I carried the fixie down the stairs and thought West looked appealing so I headed that way. I climbed a few blocks up Queen Anne Hill. It is a muscle workout climbing Queen Anne. My bike has one gear. But there’s something that is addictive about it. The bike has no derailleurs and no freewheel so your legs become part of the bike. There is a direct connection between me and the road. I read on http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed/index.html that this makes fixies good for riding in the snow. There’s little chance of me riding in the snow.

So I push up the hill and feel larger than normal. Just pushing that tall gear up a hill like Queen Anne is an accomplishment for me. The Tour de France guys can push up hills like that for ten miles at a time but I take it easy between blocks. If you work at it you can slow right down and get a breather as the road flattens out for the cross street.

As I get to the top of the hill I change my mind. I want to go to the Fremont Library. I haven’t been in there for years. Wikipedia tells me Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the basement of UCLA library so I figure libraries must have something going for them when it comes to books.

I turn the bike around. Low speed manouevers work well on a fixie. I have good control since there’s no freewheel. I slow my pedalling to slow the bike down. I can’t stand motionless like those unshaven bike couriers at Seattle city lights. My friend Zach practiced standing stationary on his bike on the carpet at his work until he could do it. I don’t want to practice in my lounge room. Perhaps I could practice in the park. It would feel a bit silly, like a politician practicing a smile.

I head down the hill. The bike wants to spin faster. My legs want to maintain a steady pace. I am not comfortable enough to go flying down the hill so I ‘proceed with caution’. Crossing the Fremont Bridge is a joy as the road work keeps traffic moving at walking pace and I fly by the drivers. There a bike rack outside the library (thank you Seattle) and I park next to a touring bike. The bike is well used. It has both a front and a rear rack. To carry even more it has a baby trailer. This outfit could cross america. It looks like it comes from a more practical world than my sparse fixie.

The library is busy. All the regular desks have people at them, although there are spare chairs here and there between the people. Thre are a lot of laptop users here. There are several library computers here and they are fully used. Some other people are wandering around the shelves looking at DVDs and books. There are two rows of armchairs facing each other. They are empty. I seem the be the only person who is going to read in the library.

The armchair has cushions that are stff and straight. It doesn’t match well to the slouching posture I use to read. The arms are wooden, giving the chair a look like it was designed a hundred years ago. I look around the library. It was funded by Carnegie (Andrew, the oil overlord rather than Dale, the person you read when you want to win friends). It has a mediterranean style, with white walls and a tiled roof. The best thing about it are the trusses. I think they are scissor trusses but I’m no architect. They are built with large wooden beams, the kind that makes me think of a ship’s mast. This was built when there was plenty of old growth forest to cut down.

And so I read ‘If You Want to Write’ by Brenda Ueland. It was written in 1938 so you can find old copies for a cent on Amazon (plus $3.50 shipping). I read this old book in this old library for an hour or more. While reading I made myself three notes – stories I need to write up, whether they are a chapter or a sentence. Here they are:

Swedish Cultural Training – I need to tell the story of how my American company acquired a mch smaller Swedish company from the point of view of how the cultures differed. This includes the ‘Swedish Cultural Training’ we did to learn the differences in behaviour. (Short version of the training, without charge – Swedes hate to stand out and Americans love to.)

Chinese Brent – I spent several months working ‘on the roof’ as a roof tiler. Everyone on the roof had a nickname. Mine was “Chinese Brent”. To the boss my eyes looked Chinese. I have scars on my right shoulder from the damage caused by carrying stacks of tiles up a ladder. This is proof that I have done manual labour and proof that my body is too delicate for such work.

Bedroom over Long Reef – When I used to live by Long Reef Beach in Sydney my bedroom had huge windows. I would watch the ships line up outside Sydney Heads waiting for their turn to unload their cargo. I could see the lightning when storms were out at sea. I sat on my bed and watched the rain.

The Escalade is about to run out of power. Later.


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