Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tail Swing

The sign on the door says "DO NOT HIT THE DOOR."

I didn't. I never have.

In fact, for almost three years of driving, I hadn't hit anything with any of the dozens of buses that I've driven for Metro Transit. I'm so thankful.

But then, on Thursday, I was in a position that I'm sure I've encountered before. I was assigned a bus like the one on the right. I needed to drive forward and turn, being careful to avoid hitting the mirror of the bus on the left. I had to turn because the garage door immediately in front was damaged. I decided to turn left because another bus was too close to the garage door to my right. But, in turning left, around that bus' mirror, I scraped a metal protective cover on a pipe with the right side of my rear bumper. My perfect driving record is now history.

It hasn't yet been determined whether it was a "responsible accident," but, in any case, I reported it and am waiting to be called into the office of the safety manger. It's the first thing I've hit in three years.

The culprit: "tail swing." Tail swing is the motion that the rear end of any large vehicle makes during a turn. In this case, because of the limited space between my bus and the broken garage door ahead, I had to turn quite sharply. But the rear end of my bus always moves in the opposite direction. And that metal protective cover around that pipe was there, just waiting to clobber my bus.

I was back in the saddle on Friday AM and PM, being so aware of my rear end. I'll do the same next week. And the week after that. I'm sure, during the years to come, I'll be more aware of tail swing than I ever would have been if this accident wouldn't have happened. It was a learning opportunity for sure.


I've been thinking of that in connection with other things. For example, we're considering doing a project in our backyard. We'll create a "swale," a long low spot, sort of like a shallow valley that will direct rainwater away from the house's foundation. To do that we'll need to change the way we get from the driveway into the back door. That probably means we'll put in a deck or porch above the swale. We're looking at options now, thinking of using retirement savings, carefully calculating how much value the improvements will add to the house.

The "tail swing" is that spending those funds now mean that I'll be more locked in to working more years. I've said, many times, that I plan to work at Metro Transit until I'm at least 70 years old, but making decisions to spend (or invest) big money in the house will sort of seal that fate. Except, of course, if I have another accident, and if I am considered "responsible" for causing this one, there's always the possibility that I'll be forced to retire sooner. You can't have even minor accidents and drive for Metro Transit.

Lots to think about besides the swale and the future porch. If we go ahead, it will impact more than the backyard.

That's just one example. The same thing is true for every other decision. Unintended consequences, equal and opposite reactions, collateral damage: so many things can happen. It's actually impossible to keep track of it all. Driving a bus is do-able. But the rest of life is beyond human understanding.

That's why I need to rely on the Lord and His wisdom. That's why I need to stop and pray. That's what we're doing now.

Psalm 139:5 speaks of the Lord surrounding us, being both in front and behind. How thankful I am that he watches, not only what's ahead, but the tail swing behind.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Friends for the Long Journey

The video above is the full version of a Ted Talk excerpt that was posted on my facebook page. The piece below was something I wrote this morning as a comment on that post.

*Whether* I live a long time isn't the most important thing. Doing what I can do to *prolong* my life on this earth in this body isn't what I think about, for example, when I posted, last month, about "planning" to live until 105. My mom and dad are 90ish and the plain fact is that I enjoy doing things that keep me relatively strong and healthy... so I think it's just a _fact_ that I will probably live a long time on this earth in this body. Of course I'm aware that things might change, and, as someone who believes that Jesus has my life in his hands, I know I'm not in control. But, the fact is that all of us can do things to make our later lives better...

As I look at Susan Pinker's list, many of the things she lists as predictors of long life are actually things that will increase the quality of our lives, and will allow us to be strong enough to bless others as we move up through the years. Some of those things we can do on our own or with professional help. Social integration, as she describes it, having lots of everyday interactions with other people -- that's something we can make happen by choosing to live or work in the hubbub of human society. _Close_ relationships, however, are different. That's something we need one another to maintain.

The challenge, as we move along in years, is to not allow past difficulties in relationships to isolate us. Staying in touch, working through challenges, continuing to value people who we find out are different than ourselves, and being able to live with some ambiguity in how we "are" together is key, I believe, to keeping having long term "close relationships" with family and old friends.

Jesus can help us with that. One of the sweetest scenes of the Bible is the reunion of Jesus with his failed disciples after his resurrection. He didn't toss his friends out because they failed. He kept them, both women and men, valuing them and blessing them. I want to do everything I can to do the same with you
, and I hope you'll do the same with me. I have failed and need forgiveness just like you.

It's hard when we live all over the world. Some of our relationships will always be at a distance, sad to say. Even living on the other side of cities or counties can mean we're not going to see each other often, even for years at a time. Still, we can open our hearts and our doors to one another, and do what we can to not shrink back from relationships because they are not as comfortable as they used to be. I think that's part of what we can do together to be as strong and as full of blessing as we can do as long as we live.

Just how this will work out for each of us isn't something any of us can know for anyone else, but I know one thing I believe is good for me is to reach out to others, even at a distance, especially to those who have been significant to us at various times. We never know how the others will react, of course, and there's always the possibility that you or I have hopes for the friendship that won't be attained. That's unavoidable, IMO, if we are going to avoid being isolated as the years go by.

Peace to you in Jesus' name.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Work and Time

I've been back home from work for about a half hour now (9:40 AM). Earlier, as I was working, I was thinking about how much I enjoy my work. I'd probably do it as a volunteer if I could be guaranteed enough money to live. The only major thing that's a negative is the amount of time my work takes out of any given day. At least that's what it seems like to me.

As I take time to really look at my schedule, it's not really that bad. I have almost five hours during each day, Monday through Friday, to do anything I want to. True, a couple hours of that are taken up in things I think I need to do almost every day -- exercising and napping. Both of those get cut some on some days, but, generally, that leaves 3 hours a day, plus the (short) evening, to do all the things the Lord has given me to do besides working for a living.

Honestly, it's a great life. I'm so thankful! This morning when I got home I put up a little wire fence to keep the rabbits from eating the tulips that are coming up even through it's 16F, and I put this little blog post together. Now I'll take a nap.


Here's a little visual about how my schedule has been for last couple years or so... I don't have a record of how it was for the summer and fall of 2015. Every three months or so the schedule changes as we "pick" the "duties" we'll be assigned for winter, spring, summer and fall. Right now my "duty" includes morning routes near the U of M, and afternoon routes through Northeast Minneapolis.

Brief Layover

Right now I'm in a bus that's sitting on Como Ave. near the MN state fairgrounds. When I have a few minutes like this I usually check my Facebook. I'm involved in significant conversation there.

How do you engage with others about important topics?

Time to leave westbound on route 3.


It's cold outside. Two days ago a friend said it was January 94th. I said it would get better by the 101st. Ha!

This chart is from the National Weather Service website. I found it as I was looking through their "climate data," trying to see if this winter has been as unusually cold as it seems to be.

Nope. It's been about normal, until recent days. It's just that we've been spoiled during recent years. The last 3 have been warmer than usual.

More later. Time for me to get to work!