All posts by Ally Bean

Quirky. Funny. Curious. With a twist of attitude. And the ability to write about it.

Of Cemeteries, Segways & Common Sense

A friend convinced me that it would be a great idea for us to rent Segways and then move through a large cemetery known for its unique tombstones and mausoleums.  

We’d be doing this at sunset on an evening when the cemetery closed all the roads to car traffic and encouraged visitors to walk, run, bike, move through the roads.

I hesitated because I’d never ridden on a Segway, but I loved the idea of seeing this cemetery, known for its history, on a more personal level.  So I said “yes.”  

At first I doubted whether I’d be able to master a Segway, but I did.  Sort of.  Or at least I did enough to be allowed by the rental company to go move around a cemetery without car traffic.  

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If you’ve not been on a Segway, there are 3 things I learned:

1)  You have to stand completely still on the device, with your feet locked into a perfectly aligned specific place, or you’ll cause the gyroscopes to reposition you.  This means that if you do shift your feet at all, the Segway wiggles underneath you.  Uncontrollably.

SO DON’T MOVE YOUR FEET, EVEN ONCE, WHILE ON IT.

2)  Going up hills on a Segway is easy to do because all you do is lean forward.  [MSNBC would approve.]  Going down hills is more difficult because you have to lean back while never moving your feet, yet while softening your knees, so that the impact of any hole in the road doesn’t cause you trouble.

THIS IS NOT AS SIMPLE TO DO AS THE INSTRUCTORS SUGGEST THAT IT IS.

3)  Turning a Segway is an unnatural skill that is nothing like driving a car or maneuvering a bicycle.  While I was able to easily do it in large movements, such as turning right or left at a 4-way intersection, it was difficult to do on a smaller scale, such as wandering over to look a specific object.  In fact, at one point the machine stopped responding to me altogether and took over steering so that I was thrown from it.

YES, I WAS THROWN OFF OF A SEGWAY ONTO THE GROUND BECAUSE IT INSISTED THAT WE WERE GOING TO THE RIGHT WHEN I TOLD IT TO GO TO THE LEFT.

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So did I have a good time on our adventure through the cemetery?  Well, to be honest, not really.  

I mean I enjoyed spending time with my friend and we did cover a lot of ground in the cemetery, but we weren’t able to see any tombstones or mausoleums up-close because once on a Segway you’re stuck there. 

And because it doesn’t go onto grassy areas many of the monuments we wanted to explore were way too far away to get to, let alone photograph.  So the whole adventure seemed pointless to us.

Common sense suggests to me that I wouldn’t rent one again unless (maybe) it was part of a guided tour on paved paths (perhaps in a well manicured city park?) that were far away from car traffic.  And even then, I might just pass on the whole Segway thing and go for a walk by myself.

It really wasn’t much fun at all.  Not recommended. 

Pondering A Neighbor’s Nutty Behavior

You know how sometimes when you’re walking along a downtown city street and a person, who is nuttier than a fruitcake soaked in rum, starts shouting nonsensical things at you from the other side of the street?

Well, here’s my suburban equivalent of that city experience.

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Woman on other side of street pointing at passersby as she shouts for no discernible reason. 

{ Source: Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection 

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I was sitting outside on our deck, mid-afternoon, reading a catalogue, enjoying the mild October weather.

When BAM-BAM-BAM the neighbor woman who lives behind us on the other side of the wooded ravine started clanking metal objects together.  This went on for about a minute.

I was startled, of course, so I looked up from my reading to see what was going on that required this much noise.  I saw nothing out of the ordinary.

So I went back to reading my catalogue.

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Me outside my house heading toward the deck to enjoy a bit of fresh air.

{ Source: Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection 

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But that was not the end it.  About a minute after she stopped clanking metal objects together she yelled to no one in particular: “Don’t. Feed. The. Birds.”

Then I heard her stomp into her house and slam shut the sliding patio door, leaving me to ponder what the heck she was talking about and who she thought would hear her.

It also made me realize that I needed to thank my lucky stars that the nuttier-than-a-fruitcake suburban neighbor lives way over there on the other side of the ravine.

Far away from me.  Forsooth.

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My nutty neighbor decreeing from afar that which we are to do henceforth.

{ Source: Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection 

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A Sunday Morning Walk In What Amounts To The Wilderness For Us Suburban Folk, Part 2 Of 2

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Having first walked through acres of cheerful wild flowers in a native grassland enhancement area, Zen-Den & I took a different path in the nature preserve that lead us deep into a dark forest under gray skies.  Here is some of what we saw…

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the spooky remains of a rotted out tree…

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dainty purplish wild flowers growing in the shade…

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a rustic wooden yes-I-can-see-between-the-planks-to-the-stream-below bridge…

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lichen-covered logs in groovy colors and patterns…

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and lots of bright green moss.

[Part 1 was yesterday.]

A Sunday Morning Walk In What Amounts To The Wilderness For Us Suburban Folk, Part 1 Of 2

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Even though it was a bit hazy outside last Sunday morning, Zen-Den & I decided to go for a walk in a nature preserve.  During the first part of our walk, which took us through a native grassland enhancement area, we went…

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over a sturdy bridge…

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by a pond reflecting colorful autumn leaves still on the trees…

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down a quiet path…

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to fields of wild black-eyed Susans…

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with milkweed and dandelions interspersed among them…

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to an unexpected spot to take a rest.

[Part 2 will be tomorrow.]

I’m Cackling Here About Nothing In Particular Just Because I Can

One of the realities of keeping a blog is the expectation that I will have something to say every week when I get here.  This expectation emanates both from within me + from you, my gentle readers.

I said that I’d be here, so I’ll be here.

That being explained, I can now confide in you that I don’t always have much to say here.  After a decade of bouncing around the blogosphere, I don’t consider this to be a problem.  I know that I’m a laid back communicator with an easygoing style who can turn just about anything into a blog post.

Yep, I got skillz.

So it won’t surprise you to know that the retro Kroger egg commercial that I shared above is all that I have to talk about today.  To wit, I found the simple b&w animation charming and the honest message entertaining.

“Isn’t the chicken lucky that eggs are the shape that they are?”

And now, having fulfilled my self-imposed obligation to post something of great value on this blog today, I’m going to wander off into the real world where I hope to have positive adventures and to gain deep insights into human nature so that I may share them with you, my gentle readers, next week.  Until then:

Be safe. Be happy. Be.

3 Simple Examples Of Cause & Effect Explained With Photos

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CAUSE:  Neighbor’s sweet kitty cat who likes to enjoy an afternoon nap in the sun along the edge of our terrace next to the woods behind the house.

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EFFECT:  Gift of bird feather placed smack dab in the middle of our front stoop so that I can find it when I step out the front door.

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CAUSE:  Exterior house painters whose ladders spent a good part of the early summer on our deck.

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EFFECT:  Unexplained rusted door stop found over the weekend in mulch along stone path around back of house where painters painted for weeks.

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 CAUSE:  Beautiful deciduous trees, in our neighbor’s yard, whose leaves are in the process of changing colors.

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EFFECT:  Dried up leaves along the edges of our driveway ready to be collected and disposed of in the forest behind our house.

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In Which Ms. Bean Does Not Give In To Curmudgeonliness

“Everybody makes their own fun. If you don’t make it yourself, it isn’t fun. It’s entertainment.”

~ David Mamet, State and Main

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I WAS DRIVING BY A HIGH SCHOOL when I noticed that the kid in the car that had just pulled out in front of me, while obeying all appropriate rules of the road, had something written on his back window.  So when we got to a stoplight, I made sure that I was behind the car to see what it said.

It said: “Honk. I’m a Senior.”

I didn’t honk.  My first thought was that it seemed a tad premature to ask for external validation before you actually accomplish something like– oh, I don’t know– graduate from high school.  Earn a college degree or two.  Get a job.  Buy a house.  Fund your 401K.

• • •

BUT THEN AS I DROVE ALONG I had an unexpected change of heart when I realized what an old fogey I’d become.  I’m sure that when I was a kid in high school I would have thought that a message like the one on the car was clever + fun.

And it was harmless.

Of course by the time that I came to this conclusion, the kid in the car had turned onto a different road, so my opportunity to honk at him was gone.  But I have to thank him for reminding me that everybody needs a bit of moral support from time-to-time, and that asking for it is a good way to make your own fun.