How I Spent My Afternoon

Day’s Verse:
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
Matthew 8:26 (context)

Playing with crayons! Specifically, black and yellow crayons to make a practice intersection for the class next week.

Practice Intersection

Partway through I had an epiphany: If I don’t indicate which way the lanes are going, I dramatically increase the number of scenarios we can play out. At the same time I realized that we could use post-it notes to flexibly indicate lane type. We’ll use really cool working miniature bikes and try out different scenarios of where you should position a bicycle in the lane, where you should start moving over, where you should scan, and so forth depending on where you want to go through the intersection. I prefer hands-on playing over lecturing when I teach.

I guess I’m as prepared for Monday as I can be. It’s going to be rocky (and, more than likely, freezing, rainy/snowy, windy, and horrendous…and that’s just the weather!), but whatever happens, Tuesday evening I’ll be home with some interesting stories to tell.

Numbers I’ve Never Seen Before

Day’s Verse:
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;
mock life and life will mock you.

Proverbs 9:12

…at least not when I’m standing on a bathroom scale. Here’s me on the scale in regular clothes before the backpack:
112 lbs

Here’s what Ian described as “heavy reading,” my backpacking backpack crammed full of 85 Traffic Skills 101 student manuals to deliver to the Bicycle Alliance:
Heavy reading

And here’s me on the scale wearing the backpack:

Gosh, I’ve never been anywhere near 150 lbs before! Ian was right, this is heavy reading! A little quick math indicated I was carrying just under 40% of my weight in that backpack. I mentally patted myself on the back at my clever solution for how to get 40 lbs of books to BAW without driving downtown. A backpacking backpack, I reasoned, is designed to carry heavy loads. Granted, this wasn’t food, water, clothes, tents, sleeping bags, etc., but what does the bag care?

Then I realized that carrying 40 lbs on my back really wasn’t a big deal at all. Parents carry their children in backpacks all the time, and don’t think of it as some extraordinary feat. But since I don’t have kids, I’ll just count it a success having eventually gotten the Traffic Skills 101 manuals to the Bike Alliance on a snowy day sans car or even bike. ‘Course, I spent 3.5 hours traveling for 2 hours at the Bike Alliance, thanks to the snow and buses with chains on that could, as a result, travel up to only 30 mph.

My gosh, the first class is THIS MONDAY. …It’s gonna be OK. It is. It is.

Bike Class Day 1

Day’s Verse:

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:30-32 (context)

Day 1 went well, all things considered. We got into the building, had all the materials we needed, everybody showed up, and nobody fell asleep. We survived.

Day 2, we’re bringing lots of ice water and sunblock. It’s all outdoors and the forecast calls for 92°F weather. There’s a heat advisory. We’re setting up a tent for shade in the parking lot where we’re doing the drills. I’m glad we made on-road so short.

More later!

Teaching a Bike Class

Day’s Verse:
Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.
2 Cor. 13:7

My entire week — and a good portion of earlier weeks — has been consumed with organizing the Bicycle Alliance’s first Traffic Skills 101 class. Originally I conceived it as a way to say thank you to volunteers — essentially another incentive for volunteering. We can say “Another advantage of volunteering for the Bike Alliance is that we offer Traffic Skills 101 exclusively to volunteers for only $20 (to cover the cost of materials). If you took this class elsewhere in the Puget Sound area, you’d pay $60 to $85.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out that way. We invited some specific people, mostly volunteers, and filled the class — that’s 9 or 10 students with two LCIs. But then students started dropping the class. Things came up. They hadn’t paid anything, so they didn’t lose anything by backing out. This happened to me in April with the Salute to Volunteers Night at the Mariners, too. People RSVP’d; we bought tickets; and then they didn’t show. Anyway, some other people got invited to the class who haven’t volunteered. Eventually we got down to 5 students, and I was willing to take almost anybody — but that was yesterday afternoon, and the class starts at 4:00 today (Friday the 13th, as many people have pointed out). It was too late of notice.

Every and I have decided to cancel the class if we only get 3 students. But I’m still feeling discouraged and disappointed by the bad turnout: I’ve put in tons of work finding a venue, planning the curriculum, organizing food and miscellaneous details, planning a route, ordering materials from the League of American Bicyclists, …well, the list goes on. On top of which, Every and I will both be working Friday evening and Saturday, with no particular recompense. I’ve worked more weekends and evenings than I want, with no surcease in sight.

So I’m feeling discouraged. But I’ve also learned something:

  • People don’t value what they don’t pay for. Offering something free or very cheap — like a baseball game or a bike class — seems to make it less meaningful, less of a commitment.
  • Commitments don’t mean as much as they used to. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, “back in the day, giving your word meant something.” If you said you were going to an event, whether free or not, you went, even if something better came up. Now, though, people seem to always be on the lookout for what’s most beneficial for them. Saying you’ll go to one event doesn’t mean you’ll go, per se; it more means you’ll go if something better doesn’t come up.

This is really frustrating, but I’m learning tricks to deal with it.

  1. Make people pay up front.
  2. Ask for a refundable charge. Require people to write you a $50 check to register and give the check back when the student finishes the class.
  3. Take the student’s firstborn child hostage. Return the child when the student finishes the class.

In any case, I’m teaching a bike class this weekend. It’ll go from Friday at 4:00 pm through Saturday at 2:30 pm (with a break for sleeping and such, of course). I’m really looking forward to Saturday afternoon.