A Reporter’s Notebook

What would we do without notebooks—the kind you actually write in?

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I often wonder if they are becoming obsolete. Everything is digital today or soon will be, and that is a detriment of our society, our culture.

The latest book I am reading is Digital Storytelling. It’s about “capturing lives and creating community.” Thousands of years ago, before there was a written language, we had oral storytelling. Even our religious books—the Bible, the Quran, etc., began as oral histories. Even what is considered the oldest story in the world, the story of Gilgamesh, from between the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, a thousand years older than the bible, was an oral story before it was recorded on baked clay tablets in cuneiform characters—a very ancient “notebook.”

And now? We have digital storytelling. Digital cameras. Digital audio recorders. Computers, laptops and iPads. What has happened to the good old pencil and paper?

Here’s what a notebook does for me. It slows me down to gather my thoughts, and then to put them on paper. Impulsive thoughts may come and go, but they are always self critiqued. That’s when a good eraser comes in or lining out that sentence or paragraph.

There is a drawback, a negative to good old fashioned pen and paper. The difficulty is coming back to something I wrote sometime ago and trying to decipher my hand writing! When it’s no longer fresh in my mind, that scribbling can be terribly hard to read. Maybe I should have paid more attention to penmanship in grade school.

On the other hand, the benefits of a notebook are portability and reliability. It takes up very little space. A notebook operates consistently even if the user does not. It can be easily carried in a pocket, purse camera gear bag, briefcase or backpack. It requires no electricity nor a wireless connection. And perhaps the most profound use of a pen and notebook is that it is capable or recording the deepest thoughts of the user, if the user is willing to reveal themselves.

So, how did this post come to be? I wrote it in a notebook, and then transcribed it on the computer. The notebook came first. The computer allowed me to  publish it.

A good old-fashioned notebook! Don’t leave home without it.

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See you on the highway.

Brent

End note: If you have never read the story of Gilgamesh, do yourself a favor and visit your library. It is a wonderful piece of ancient literature, full of friendship, love and tragedy. Enough so that one episode of Star Trek Next Generation was wrapped around this ancient story, “Darmok” Season 5, Episode 2. It first aired September 28, 1991.

A Simple Ride

“Honey, I’m going for a simple ride. I’ll be back in a little while.”

“Okay. Be careful.”

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And with that, I rolled the motorcycle out of the garage, started the engine for a warmup, put on my riding jacket, helmet and gloves and straddled the bike. Pulling away from the house, through the neighborhood, and out onto the county road to see where it might lead me. It’s just a simple ride.

What constitutes a simple ride? Around the block? To the store and back? Thirty minutes of country back roads? What does it mean? To me? To you? Lots of questions about a simple ride.

What do you expect to feel when you ride? Exhilaration? Adrenaline rush? Do you push yourself and the motorcycle to reach these sensations? Speeding down the highway flat out, or cruising through the curves with twists and turns and white knuckles? Hearing the roar of the engine with rapid acceleration? Or, are you looking for something else?

The county road flows through the countryside like a river of asphalt. Blue sky above, leafless trees ready for Spring and starting to bud out. There is no other traffic. It’s just me on the motorcycle on the road, rolling along at a moderate pace. The road twists and turns into the valley to follow along the river lined with trees. The sun shines down, casting shadows of trees on the pavement. Music only in my head seems to create a music video, perhaps a piano solo or maybe a guitar. It’s euphoric.

There is a Zen quality to a simple ride. To be a part of the environment. To sense the presence of something bigger than myself. To feel a part of that harmony that we are connected. For we are.

A simple ride? There’s nothing really simple about it.

See you on the highway.

Brent

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope your year goes well and is a blessed one.

I am sure you’ve thought about your 2017 Bucket List, or have been making plans for events-travels-milestones. Maybe you have made resolutions. The only resolution I make is not to make any. Check.

One thing I like to do on New Year’s Day is to get the motorcycle out and take my first ride of the year. It gets this event out of the way, and sets my mind towards those longer and more adventurous rides I am planning.

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I have several motorcycle trips planned, and more importantly, plan a lot more work on my Ohio River Towns project. A motorcycle may be involved with those travels, but not exclusively.

See you on the highway.

Brent

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For 180 years the foundation of this path
has provided a conveyance.
Little Miami Railroad until 1981,
then rails turned into trails.

Today, bicycles, hikers and a horse or two
follow the same path
as Abraham Lincoln on his route to inauguration
and Confederate General John Hunt Morgan escaping prison.

Two sets of mile markers measure distance.
Little Miami River distance markers are measured from the
mouth of the Ohio River.
Bike Trail markers are measured from Xenia Station to Cincinnati.

Hikers, bikers and walkers with their pets,
enjoying the trail or kayaking on the river,
are they thinking about the history of this scenic place?
Are they thinking of all those who came before to create it?

Brent

Little Miami Conservancy: Little Miami National Wild and Scenic River
Friends of the Little Miami State Park: Trail Maps