Weekly Rochester Events #435: For Three Hundred Million
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Last Wednesday was Ali's first softball game with her team from work — well, actually there's a few defectors from a competing company, but we don't talk about them. The team did pretty well but got behind by the end of the game. Afterward, we stopped by The Thirsty Turtle Sports Bar (7422 State Route 96, Victor) to see if we could find some friends of hers and stayed for a few drinks. When we got back to Rochester, we were both pretty hungry so we headed to The Distillery (1142 Mount Hope Ave.) I hadn't been there in a while, but the appetizers we got were really good — well, the boneless Buffalo-style chicken wings weren't all that great, but the quesadillas were quite good. And things were cheap, too, so it was even better.
Thursday I tried biking to The Rochester Public Market (280 Union St. N.) in the late morning with the bike trailer. Unfortunately, when I got to Monroe and Goodman — about 3 miles into a 5-mile journey — the freewheel on the bike broke (that's the part that lets you pedal the bike forward but not backward). It failed in a weird way: the pedals, chain, and rear cassette all moved fine but it didn't make the wheel go. I talked with some guy about the bike trailer and during the conversation, I figured out that some loose chunk of pawl in the freewheel would jam and allow me to pedal the bike forward. If I backpedaled, though, whatever part lodged in there would slip out of position and stop it from working again.
So I rode all the way back home — over Highland Park — without taking pressure off the pedals. Although I was able to shift gears, don't forget that I was also towing a 40-pound trailer. I was exhausted when I got home, but I took the car to the market to get there before it closed. I arrived at the same time as my friend Peri on her recumbent bike.
It turned out I also got to see her on Friday at a picnic at her house — and then again at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) for one of the screenings of The Rochester International Film Festival. I was thankful that all the films were very good. There weren't even any technical issues!
That night I met someone at Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.) who I thought was on a positive spiritual journey — someone who had been burned by a narcissistic predator. Both earlier and later in the week I talked with my friend Sondra Carr about our usual mix of people, life, and art when we got on the topic of "predators" — people who seek others to use for their own benefit.
We've noticed that there is a lot in common with cults. Both predators and cult leaders feed insecurity and distort open-mindedness with lies, half-truths, and otherwise conflicting information. The predators are insecure and closed-minded — they also need their insecurity fed, but they get their fix of false self-confidence by manipulating others; their closed-mindedness prevents them from respecting their prey. However, this is also their downfall because their foil is self-assured and open-minded — someone who is confident in their basis for reality and who is constantly asking questions.
So a predator may start out by being belligerent with their prey and excuse it by saying, "well, I'm just an asshole." Their prey accepts this as truth, and empathizes with the low self-esteem. They think, "here's someone like me and that feels good." Now that a relationship is formed, the predator argues for an absolute "relative morality" — "there is always a way to see any act in both a positive and negative light, so it's impossible to set any moral standards". They appeal to open-mindedness and keep their prey off-balance by using flawed logic and half-truths to prove that "nobody really knows anything anyway." A specific example is a predator who asked their prey to copy some DVD movies — when their prey's home burned down, they asked, "hey, did you happen to get those DVD's done?" And why not? It's not like losing a home is necessarily bad, right? You're not saying that I'm wrong, are you?
Sondra said there are two absolutes in life (and I'm paraphrasing): that there are actions you take can benefit you, there are actions that benefit "everyone" (or "many people" and/or including yourself), and taking the path that benefits "everyone" is better. I made the analogy this way: you have a bucket with stuff that's "good for you" and a bucket that's "good for everyone." Anything you do changes what's in those buckets, so if you have several options in your actions, the best course of action is that which adds the most in total to the "good for you" and "good for everyone" buckets.
We speculated that predators believe in relative value — that it's not the total amount of good that you do, but the difference between what's "good for you" and what's "good for everyone". That is, a predator will take a course of action that maximizes the benefit to them while minimizing the benefit to everyone. They believe they are getting ahead if they are pushing someone back — relative thinking — as if it's a race to be won rather than a journey to be shared.
Anyhow, on Saturday I got a chance to get raisins (the only groceries I needed) from The South Wedge Green Grocer and Garden Center (683-685 South Ave.) I'm glad to see the have a larger selection than when I visited shortly after they opened. I envy the South Wedge — all we have in the Upper Mount Hope Neighborhood is gas stations and a drugstore to meet our grocery needs.
Later that day, Ali and I got together to go to a wedding for a couple friends of ours. Everything was really nice — there were a lot of familiar faces from around town. It was a funny bit of serendipity that I ran into an old coworker of mine and discovered that her husband dated Ali way back in high school. The reception was at German House (315 Gregory St.) which I have to recommend highly for the beautiful ballroom space they have.
Sunday we decided to go for a walk after breakfast. We walked a mile or so to The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial of Greater Rochester (1440 South Ave.) which is very nice — if you haven't checked it out, please do. From there we headed through Highland Park (Reservoir Dr.) to see the lilacs which were just starting to bloom and to Mt. Hope Cemetery (791 Mt. Hope Ave., the North Gate.) We happened to arrive right at 2 and went on a wonderful free tour which highlighted a dozen or so people in Rochester's past and how they affected our city and the world. By the time we got home we had been walking for 5 hours so, exhausted, we ordered some delicious white-pizza from Mr. Shoes Pizza (1921 South Ave.) and lounged on the porch for a while.
In other news, I've been excited about starting to run barefoot. I heard some rumors that it was really invigorating and effective. Ali suggested that I do some research first to see if there are any dangers from infections, fungus, or physiological risks. Most of the expert (i.e. doctor-cited) information on the Internet agreed that it was no worse than wearing shoes to run barefoot but to watch out for glass and the like. One proponent has a website called RunningBarefoot.org that documents personal experiences and includes a "how to start".
I'm glad I looked because I thought my rolling heel-to-toe step was just fine, but in fact that's a side effect of wearing padded shoes and can really screw you up by increasing impact. The way to run barefoot is to step on the ball of your foot and your heel will gently kiss the ground during mid-step. The arch in your foot along with your slightly bent knees provides excellent impact resistance that does not travel all the way up your spine like when you land on your heel. I tried walking in that way and found I wanted to break into a run — it was quite exciting. My own mental training technique is to imagine I had a catsup packet on my heel that I didn't want to break. After 30 minutes my calves were thoroughly exercised and stretched. The brief sprints I tried felt very good and natural.
On the opposite end of the transportation structure, I took my 1994 Civic in for some brake work. I use Firestone (369 Jefferson Rd.) because I've been going there for years and I find the crew there is straightforward about troubleshooting, diagnosing, and helping select options. Unfortunately, not only did the rear caliper need to be replaced, but I also needed new rear brake drums and bearings — apparently those two trips to Burning Man and back with 1,000 pounds over the rear axle did a number on them. So, instead of a nice neat number like $300 — a manageable and acceptable amount for an old rustbucket like mine — and instead of a disastrously high number like $3,000 — an amount that would lead me to sell the car for parts and go buy an electric scooter (to complement the 1992 Buick RoadMaster Estate Wagon for long trips) — the amount had to be $1,160. Crap ... it's about what the car is worth. Plus it would pay for a lot of gas in the Buick.
I went ahead anyway — I'll probably get a couple more years out of it as a rainy-day commuter.
But the worst of it was they didn't check the front brakes, and it turned out the Civic had a seized caliper. Fortunately, I bought "lifetime" front brakes in 1997 and the front brake job didn't cost me a dime.
At least not a dime more than the $1,160 already.
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