Too much of what we like

You start off with the best of intentions. You’re going to settle in and get all the grading done. Finished, finito and kaput. From there, you can take a deep breath, rub your eyes and do other things until it is time to get geared up for the next lecture and class notes.

That’s what you want to do, with the 51 things you have to grade, but when it comes down to it, you’ve come into 51 things to read and think about and give some useful feedback and, ultimately, grade.

It’s the grading part, you see. These are good assignments, but ultimately subjective. So, each time, with each assignment, you have to make sure you’re comfortable with the rubric and that you can deliver it equitably. All of this takes a little time and then there’s just the regular daily stuff and should that really be an 80? Or was it a 70? Should I call it 75? Was that a typo in the feedback?

It goes on and on. The mind goes round and round. And when I grade in bulk I am mindful of two things. First, I have to stay consistent throughout the process. Rubrics help with that, but you keep it at the forefront. The other thing is that I have to stop before I get blurry eyed. The grading must come in stages.

So much for the plan of knocking all of this out in one sitting. And that’s a big part of how Tuesday turns into Wednesday and Wednesday will turn into Thursday.

Time, once again, for We Learn Wednesdays. This is the 26th installment, so you are familiar with the idea. These are the local historical markers, as found by bike rides across the county. This is the 47th marker in the effort, which presently consists of photos I grabbed last fall.

Last week, we saw this building, and several of the colonial-era names we’ve learned in the last several months start to fit together. The courthouse is going on 400 years old, and sits near the center of downtown, even today.

Around the left side of the building, you find this small plaque.

John Fenwick fought, as a cavalry officer, for Oliver Cromwell in the Second English Civil War. (This one was about the Scots, King Charles and a parliament, including Cromwell, that didn’t like him killing his subjects, among other things.) Sometime around that same year he got married. In 1665 he left the Church of England and became a Quaker.

When he came to the new world in 1675 he created the first Quaker colony in North America, seven years before Philadelphia, even. The Salem Tenth was 1/10th of this region of the state. Basically the resolution of a convoluted and contentious series of business dealings, it was a 350-square mile county, making up most of two modern counties. Native Americans lived here, as did the children of earlier Swedish, English and Finnish settlers, people of modest means, merchants, farmers and craftsmen among the forests, meadows, bogs and waterways. The farms ranged from 50 to 300 acres.

It was Fenwick that recorded a land deed with the local Lenape Indian tribe. It was a deed and treaty with indigenous residents that was actually honored. You might remember reading about this in a history class somewhere along the way. The deal was made, the story goes, under the Salem Oak, which died in 2019, at almost 600 years old. Saplings were shipped to every town in the state.

Just a few of the modern allusions I’ve found to Fenwick refer to him as hapless, troublesome and eccentric.

The bottom of the plaque says “That my said colony and all the planters within the same may be settled in the Love of God – and in that peace which becomes all our great professions of being Christians.” Presumably that’s Fenwick, which doesn’t sound so bad a dream.

The Quaker still had some fight in him. It seems the colonial governor of New York, a man named Edmund Andros, wanted Fenwick to stop running his little area. These guys were political rivals. The governor obviously had power. Fenwick felt the same way.

Fenwick regarded himself the political equal of Governor Andros that he was the head of a small, but rapidly increasing colony that he was Patroon by purchase; was Governor by choice of the people. He had pledged his allegiance to the King and taken an oath to discharge the duties of his office faithfully, and to the interests of the people without fear or affection, and hence could not recognize any power greater that his own, save when the prerogative of the King should be exercised.

Andros, obviously, didn’t see it that way. Couldn’t see it that way. He had Fenwick tossed in jail a few times. Once, the governor’s men came down and Fenwick

bolted himself in his house and refused to go “without he was carried away either dead or alive, and if anyone dare to come to take him it was at their peril, and he would do their business” (New Jersey Archives, I, 190).

He had two homes in the area, was looked upon as a possessor of valuable belongings by his peers. Having been a cavalry officer, he maintained good horses. He was a successful enough farmer for his time. He made furniture, and then became a barber and a phlebotomist. When he was about 65, his health failing, he moved in with his daughter, and died that same year.

He’s buried in an old family cemetery, but we don’t know precisely where his grave is. In the 1920s a marker was put nearby, but there’s not a specific marker for his grave. I’ll have to go by there sometime.

Next week, we’ll visit a 19th century fire house. If you’ve missed any markers so far, you can find them all right here.

Here I am on the descent of Box Hill, in the Surrey Hills, in the Zwift cycling video game, exercise program and winter base mileage accumulator. Yesterday I did the PRL Half, which features Box Hill, a 1.9 mile climb with an average gradient of 4.4 percent, though in places it sneaks quite a bit higher. Right after the primary climb, each time, is a maddening extra climb, a short leg breaker that isn’t happy until you’re going uphill at 9 and 11 percent. But all of that is behind me right here, on my last descent of the day.

Box Hill is said to be a GPS-accurate climb of the real Box Hill that figures into the actual Prudential RideLondon-Surrey route and was featured prominently in the 2012 Olympics. It isn’t the hardest hill, in the real world or on Zwift, but there enough to it to make for an interesting mental obstacle. In yesterday’s route, I had to go over it four times.

This route is the PRL Half which copies the distanced of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey. I don’t know if I’ll do the PRL Full. I tried the half a few days ago, completed two circuits and decided I’d rather go eat. I’ve never decided anything that quickly, in one heartbeat I was going under the banner, ready to start lap three and in the next I said, “Nah,” and pressed the exit button.

That was the right decision, but sometimes even the right decisions can ring in your ears. So, yesterday, it was back to the half. Four laps, each anchored with that Box Hill climb. I had a plan. Go out slow the first time, slow-ish for the second lap, do whatever felt right on lap three and drag myself over the climb on the final loop. It seemed a wise plan.

This is what happened. On Zwift there are ghost riders, representations of your effort the last time you were on that particular route. Sometimes they fall behind you because you’re stronger, today, than you were the last time. Sometimes they dance just ahead of you for reasons unknown to man and science. Some days they disappear ahead of you because you’re tired. On my first lap I kept pace with the ghost rider, even as I was telling myself to go slow. This particular route gives you two ghost riders. One for the whole lap, and the segment for the Box Hill climb. So, at one point on that first lap, I had two ghost riders ahead of me. And then I was ahead of them, and so on. At the top of the 1.9-mile climb, I was in between them. I had to chase the first ghost down the hill.

When we got back to the starting banner I was able to follow my go slow-ish strategy for lap two. First the initial ghost rider and then the second would dangle just ahead of me, until nearing the top of the hill. The full lap ghost rider finished just ahead of me, and that was fine, because I was in this for the duration, not the time. At these speeds, duration was a thing.

Now I had to get over the climb on the third lap and let my legs rest on the descent. The ghost riders, again, only riding at my previous pace, but they easily dispatched me. That’s good for the morale on lap four.

On lap four, I found a nice little burst. I dropped the first ghost rider right away and when I linked up with the second ghost rider on the climb, he too fell behind. I hit the peak of Box Hill some 42 seconds ahead of both of them, and had about three minutes on the full-lap ghost by the time I finished the loop.

Which meant I had to continue on for nine more miles. And then sprint! Anyway, that’s 42 miles in the basement. The effort helped turn this February into the fourth most prolific month I’ve ever had on the bike. Before the week is out this should become my most productive month. There will be several spreadsheets to update.

I cut 100 words from the Box Hill story so I could include the most salient details of tonight’s late night ride. It was a flat course, but it featured five sprints. The Zwift timer shows two data points. One is your performances over the last 90 days in that particular sprint segment. The other is your time, relative to everyone else in that Zwift world at the moment. So you can see your times historically, but also your results compared to the 2,500 peers currently pedaling away around the world.

In those five sprints, I finished 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 5th and 1st.

My avatar wearing the coveted green sprinter’s jersey means simply this: all of the real fast people were already fast asleep.

Something you’ll like even more: a few more photos from last month’s SCUBA diving trip. The most important element, of course, being my dive buddy, and the best fish in all of the world’s seas.

Here’s another decent photo of a giant tortuga. She was big, and very patient with us.

And here’s a random photo I managed to take at the end of the dive. It seems I was juuuuust about to break the surface.

But who wants to do that?

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