Its been an odd week. Early on i heard about ex prime minister Tony Blair being awarded the Liberty Medal for his part in the Northern Ireland peace process, specifically the Good Friday agreement. Hmm. This is the same Tony who could so easily be branded as a war mongerer for little more than personal gain. Clinton, as he awarded the medal, said Blair "continues to demonstrate the same leadership, dedication and creativity in promoting economic opportunity in the Middle East and the resolution of conflicts rooted in religion around the world". Maybe that is why Nelson Mandela, who knows a thing or two about freedom and cultural/religious conflict was "breathing fire" down the phone to the prime ministers office when Blair decided to partake in the invasion of Iraq.
Then we had the Pope's visit. Glasgow was pretty much shut down on Thursday. Who knows what efforts have been made in London, now, as protestors must be seen as a real risk. Not surprising, given the accusations directed at Ratzinger with regards the sexual abuse perpetrated by priests of the Catholic church and his handling of the church's reaction.
I struggle with the notion of organised religion. There are far too many issues with power, financial gain and sectarianism for me to see it as a pure force for good. Where it becomes intertwined with political machinations i become particularly negative.
The aid for the Pakistan flood victims is another area where humans are suffering due to these messy conflicts. It would be naive to think that the support for the Taliban within Pakistan is not having an effect on the West's somewhat sluggish and inadequate provision of relief. Even where support is being provided, the sound bites and political posturing continue. Who is trying to buy who's support and for what ends?
None of this has helped me feel any less old and worn out this week. Taking part in endurance based activities, there is always a battle to remain healthy due to the hit your immune system takes in the time after a prolonged, hard effort. After kielder i almost immediately have fallen foul of a bug that has had me on the throne for an almost mesmerising proportion of this week. Working in health care is a bummer sometimes. The exposure to bugs is high and it doesnt take much to knock you down. I also managed to trash my back. Cycling is an activity that puts the back in a pretty shoddy position, yet requires it to work very hard indeed. For a long time now i have been doing core strengthening and stretching exercises to minimise back problems. Unfortunately, this has led to a relative weakness in my Infraspinatous, Rhomboid major and Trapezius. Having tried to address this over the last couple of weeks i threw said muscles into a massive spasm on Monday then compounded the problem by going back to exercising too soon.
To top it off, P Phone has fleas. We've tried treating her for them, but getting a cat to do anything they dont like is, well, like herding cats....
One thing that has amused me this week was picking up a bunch of ti and aluminium bolts and drilled washers. Sean at Vertigo cycles will be building another bike for me. Over the last few weeks i've become interested in the weight weenie-esque passion of tuning bike parts and for this bike i'm going to indulge a little. Hey! why not?
Non essential and non shear loaded bolts will be replaced with Aluminium. In other areas, i'll use ti. Components will be picked for function and durability. The aim of the bike will be racing. Pure and simple. It will spend most of its time as a 9 speed, but will have the option to be a singlespeed. It will also have the choice of either a suspension fork (current front runner is a Reba xx with lock out) and a niner tapered steerer carbon rigid. Weight isnt the primary concern but im going to try and run a tight ship.
Should be a lot of fun.