Thin Line

by Terry Plotkin

A Thin Line

I am riding my bicycle out to the end of the street in a residential neighborhood and come to a stop sign. An old guy, who looks like Dick Cheney, is in a small red car approaching from behind. I pull out into the road to make a left hand turn. There is big steel plate in the road, no doubt covering a hole, directly in front of me. I choose to go around the plate to avoid the bump and the potential slipperiness that might ensue from riding on steel. All these decisions, like most things when on the road, are made in a fraction of a second. The man in the red car follows for the second it took for me to get around the steel plate and before I could pull over to the right side of the road. The Dick Cheney look-a-like lays hard on the horn as I am going around the steel plate apparently enraged about his one second delay. He then goes by me and stops at the next stop sign. Another split second decision: I decided to go after him. So often I run into road rage and do nothing about it. There usually isn’t the chance with both people in their cars moving quickly down the road. This time I was determined to confront it.

I stopped by the driver’s window, “Why did you do that? Why did you do that?” I said in an animated voice.

He yells back through his closed window, “Because you cut me off!”

“I was avoiding the metal plate. What you did was dangerous! I’m a bike rider!” (One of my pet peeves is how a significant minority of car drivers don’t get what the bike rider has to deal with.)

The Dick Cheneyesque man expressed himself with his middle finger and drove off.

A mellow bike ride in a neighborhood on a summer day turned into THAT in 30 seconds.

At first I was glad I confronted him, then I thought the whole incident a little funny, but when I woke up at 2 A.M. I thought perhaps I didn’t handle myself well. Getting angry, even when justified, seldom accomplishes anything. I certainly didn’t get through to that guy. Later, a friend said I should have just cursed him out and be done with it. But that would have achieved nothing, and I seldom feel good when I take the low road. I could have done nothing, and the guy would have gone on his ignorant way to rage at someone else at the next perceived provocation.  And then I reasoned, would I have confronted him if he was a burly, tattooed young guy in a pick-up truck? I might have thought better of that. After all, he might start a fight or pull out a gun. Self-preservation is usually smarter than being right.

And then there is the disturbing fact how quickly a person, most people including myself, can become angry. And sometimes there are no good solutions to people and their inappropriate behavior.

I guess the best solution to a no win situation like this is what followed after the incident:  By coincidence I was riding my bike that day to town to go to a Yoga class where the attempt was made to bring myself back to center and let it go. At least most of it anyway.



Free the Culvert

by Terry Plotkin

My friend enlisted my help to move 3 huge flat rocks that form a bridge over a culvert that was built 200 years ago by small New England farmers. The culvert has been dysfunctional for many years because it was filled with leaves and mud. The result is the old road, soon to be a cross country ski trail, has been washed out.  The movie below shows in 47 seconds how we moved the rocks so my friend could dig out the culvert, which he has since done, and then we moved the rocks back into place.

I asked him why he wanted to do such a laborious task, and if skiing that trail was that important to him. He said that skiing the trail was just the icing on the cake. The cake was just the pleasure in figuring out how to do it and manifesting his idea, while preserving that which had been built so many years ago.   In fact, this is the second culvert he had repaired, and the first one had no real reason at all to restore it. The doing was an end in itself.

We had a good time  over the hours it took repair the culvert, and the time passed quickly. There was a quiet and Zen like quality to doing this task deep in the woods without any power tools. I’ll appreciate that trail much more than normal when I ski over those rocks come winter.

Otters Rap

By Terry Plotkin

The rap song below is sung by and old white man and it shows. I coach a team of young white men in the sport of ultimate. The school is Four Rivers and we had a banner year so I wrote and performed the following, while simultaneously making my debut in the world of rap.

More Venom – Part 2

by Terry Plotkin

More Venom – Part 2

The right wing and their media friends have moved on from trashing Bowe Bergdahl, and the compassionate prisoner exchange that brought him home. It seems that he was tortured, caged, and beaten for trying to escape. The spinners of anger just don’t want to be in league with letting that go on, unless, of course, it is Muslims that it is happening to.

The more serious issue of the collapse of Iraq has captured the right wing’s fancy. They are furious (with Obama and Hilary of course) that we didn’t keep troops in Iraq to stop the strife. They want to be in Syria too. And yes, Libya. Stay in Afghanistan as far as the eye can see. They are chomping at the bit to get into Iran. They assert that if we weren’t so timid all these places can be placated, turned into Western style democracies and keep the oil flowing at discount rates.  Probably most of them don’t believe a word of it, but that doesn’t matter. They must know, if they have read any history, that sending Christian soldiers into the Moslem world has been failing since the Crusades. And why should it work when never once was it done for benevolent reasons? The Arab world does not want us there. Does not want us to control their oil, does not want us to tell them how to run their lands, does not want us to draw imaginary boundaries to create imaginary countries like Iraq, to have cultural norms dictated to them, does not approve of colonization and imperialism, does not want their elected governments overthrown, which is what happened to Iran in 1953, does not want to be invaded, does not want to be occupied, does not want to be pacified. What is so hard to understand about that?


Now, we want their oil, everyone knows this. We want to control the world’s most valuable resource. How can this be disputed? This truth is not lost on the Arab world even if some in this country pretend we are there for something else.

Then there are those that just can’t accept that the empire has its limits, that the world is not ours to control. They long for the glory days, even as they were short-lived, when we called the shots. I would like to see a headline in the Wall Street Journal soon that goes: U.S. loses war in Vietnam. The subtext could read: Attempt to re-fight the Vietnam War, and this time win it, fails again. Thanks you for your service John McCain, but its time let it go. As for the rest of those war hawks who never served, until you are ready to send you and your children to the front lines, please stifle yourself.


Let’s become a republic again, and help light up the world.