Saturday, January 31, 2009

What Else?

I’ve spent all day the last two days grading papers so as to clear the decks for tomorrow’s big game between my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers and the Couch Slouch’s Team of Destiny, the Arizona Cardinals.

As such, it’s a pitched battle between two relatively cheap American beers: my preferred longneck painted bottle Rolling Rock versus Norman Chad’s current fave, Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Frankly, it should be no contest.

I’m predicting 34-10, Steelers, with Arizona only getting that final touchdown in garbage time after the game’s already been decided. I just don’t see Kurt Warner, ageless and amazing as he may be, having much success against Pittsburgh’s rush and secondary, even with the vaunted Larry Fitzgerald, no matter how many one-handed catches he makes.

I’ve plopped down about fifty bucks on a variety of silly proposition bets, like whether or not Heinz Ward will score a touchdown (yes, of course) and whether Roethlisberger will gain more than 1.5 yards rushing (sure, as he sneaks one in from the two-yard line for Pittsburgh’s third score.)

Most people hope it will be a good game; I could care less. All that matters to me is that the Black and Gold prevail; the more lopsided their victory, the better.

(Actually, that’s not ALL that matters; I want the Steelers to win convincingly. As satisfying as their victory of the Seahawks was in Superbowl XL, it remains tainted slightly by the officiating. In Seattle, at least, we’ll never hear the end of how the home team was gypped out of the victory in Detroit, even though, as I never tire of saying, “Championship teams overcome adversity, neener-neener, boo-boo.”)

I dare not jinx things by considering the possibility of a Steelers’ loss, but even if, by some weird set of circumstances and events they don’t come out on top, I’ll still count this season as one of my most favorite ever.

And no matter what, I’ll still be drinking Rolling Rock.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't Think About It

There are lots of things I try not to think much about.

Some are just too depressing to consider—the ongoing demise of my 401K, for instance. Others scare me too much to reflect on—take the inevitability of global climate change…please. And some, I’m sorry, I just can’t help it, simply turn out to be too disgusting for my little brain to get its mind around—the circumstances of conception leading to the Bush twins, as an example.

But perhaps the one thought that I most consistently push away is rejected for mainly pragmatic reasons; that is, were I to entertain it with any real conviction, I’d be unable to carry on with my life in the manner to which I’m accustomed. Ignoring this thought therefore, has what William James and his buddies used to call something like “cash value,” or to put it more succinctly, not thinking this thought works.

I’m referring, of course, to the obvious and undeniable truth of just how absolutely insane it can be to ride a single less-than-thirty- pound two-wheeler on city streets among dozens, hundreds, even, of more-than-several-ton four and more wheelers, in all types of weather, at all hours of the day, and in pretty much any conceivable light, or, for that matter, dark.

The craziness of this occurred to me this morning as I wove down Jackson street, avoiding a variety of obstacles: cars turning left in front of me, minivans shooting broadsides towards my body, metal plates with sharp edges appearing unexpectedly in the roadway.

Fortunately, I was able to tuck any real consideration of the danger up under my helmet and keep riding, but later in the day, as I made my way home on the quiet car-free Burke-Gilman trail, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am to have a good deal of my commute by on a route so safe I need not give it a second thought.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mid-quarter, Sort-er

I had pretty good classes today; in both, students were reasonably engaged and willing to play along, but even so, this still feels like the familiar part of the quarter, about halfway through, when I’m the one who has to do all the heavy lifting.

Sure, I know that’s what they pay me the big bucks for as I belly up at the public trough for another eleven weeks of your tax dollars at work, but still, I do get that feeling, from time to time, that I used to experience on stage as a standup comic when, casting cultured pearls before—not exactly swine, but I wouldn’t exactly say Nobel laureates, either—I would get all like, “Hey! These are the jokes, folks,” you know?

I do my best to develop and present interactive learning experiences designed to awaken philosophical thinking in young people and sometimes, it does happen. Today, I kept getting sparks, but it was almost like the wood was wet or something; little flare-ups of discussion that kind of petered out; maybe it’s the phase of the moon or something.

Contrast that with this kind of amazing conversation I had with a guy on the street and then on the bus out to Cascadia; his name was Aru and he was willing to call himself, as he moved through the world, a “philosopher,” even though I’m pretty sure he didn’t have an academic appointment anywhere. We talked almost non-stop for nearly an hour, covering everything from the state of public education in America to whether or not it makes sense to conceive of human beings as embodied spirits, a view I, of course, rejected, but which he was willing to entertain in a relatively non-dogmatic way.

Carrying on like that is more than a little bit exhausting, exhilarating as it can be; I admit I wasn’t entirely displeased to head off into the classroom where the intensity of discourse wasn’t quite so high.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Another things that’s relevant to being awfully busy this quarter is that when I’m not—like today, when I’m in one of the “eye of the hurricane” moments between grading and prepping—I don’t know what to do with myself.

That itself is a kind of funny locution; it really suggests a commitment to dualism to which I’m not even committed, but the idea is the same in any case: I’ve got this time on my hands, time in which I certainly ought to be getting ahead in the game, being responsible, taking care of business, at least lubing my bike chain, but with which I’m something at a loss about how to spend. Consequently, I totter around the house, doing little odds and ends—vacuuming, paying bills, stacking stacks of paper in new ways—without really accomplishing anything, not that I want to, anyway.

Fortunately, my contribution to our shared cultural legacy—yet another thrilling episode of 327 Words¬—earns me the right to be a slug the other 23 hours and 40-some minutes a day, and I’ve relatively few qualms about availing myself of that right.

And that’s a good thing because as it stands otherwise, I can hardly bring myself to read the New York Times—and surely not the Week in Review section, much less the Magazine.

The sad thing about this is that days like today can’t be banked somehow. It would be delightful if I could put these few hours on ice and extract that at a later date when I could really use the time. Next Sunday, for instance, I’m sure I’ll want some extra time to savor the Steelers victory in Superbowl XLIII and I’ll look back fondly on this afternoon when I had the time to do nothing more than ruminate on how much time I have.

A library visit is probably in order, too; I may still be at a loss over what to do, but at least I can browse.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Virtual Reality

It occurred to me yesterday, on my bike ride from the University District, where’d I’d been having a drink after attending a philosophy colloquium on something called “contextual explanation” in science, specifically as it plays out in evolutionary theory, that it shouldn’t be too hard to get students wondering about whether reality is really “real” (in the Platonic sense, say) because most of them, many times a day, engage in a kind of ongoing exercise in an unreal reality; that is, when they text message their friends.

Think about it: when you’re communicating with someone and all they are is a few squiggly lines on a several square-inch display in front of you (typically, hidden under the desk as your teacher prowls around the room) aren’t you essentially entering into a kind of virtual reality whose tangibility is attenuated at best, if not entirely non-existent?

So aren’t my students, who come to believe that “reality” is what exists in front of their eyes as they type away, not unlike those fabled prisoners in Plato’s cave who, since birth, chained by the neck and feet, unable to turn their heads, see nothing but shadows on the wall before them?

Of course, I could have been pushing this metaphor a bit; that might, in part have had something to do with the couple glasses of wine I had at the reception after the talk followed by the bourbon rocks I imbibed after that. But hell, even Socrates did some of his best work under such influences, just think of the dialogue The Symposium.

Most students are what I would call fetishists about reality. That is, when we do Robert Nozick’s famous “experience machine” thought experiment (essentially, “The Matrix” in a box) most say they would not to hook up, even though the “reality” they would experience therein would seem entirely real.

But if that’s the case, why is it so hard to get them not to text in class?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Teaching, All the Time

I’m not complaining, honestly (well, maybe a little bit); I have a great job, no doubt about it (what could be better than getting paid to read and talk about philosophy with rooms full of young minds, some of whom have actually done the reading!).

But, at times, it wears slightly thin, (as I’m sure all jobs do—except that one I read about on the internet a week or so ago that involved nothing more than living on a south Pacific island, snorkeling, and occasionally blogging about it.)

This week has sometimes felt like one of those times. It all began last Friday, when I spent pretty much all day grading papers; Saturday was much of the same. Sunday, I did more grading, but only just enough to appease the football gods and ensure the Steelers’ win. Then, Monday was all about finishing up another electronic stack of papers and preparing my classes for this week.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I teach two 2-hour classes back-to-back, which means I’ve got to have everything all laid out for both of them before I go in. (Granted, one of the habits I’ve adopted over my years in the classroom is not to overprepare, but still, it’s not as if I go in there with no ideas whatsoever.) And sometimes, especially at the beginnings of quarters, it feels like I’m the only one doing any work, as if students are just sitting there, waiting for me to info-tain them.

Wednesdays, I teach from 8:30 to 10:30 at the UW, then hightail it up to Cascadia for a 1:15 class. And while, I’m sure this is nothing compared to the life of so-called “freeway flyers,” who sometimes teach at three or more institutions, it remains a shock to my essentially lazy nature.

What all this means, basically, is that all I’m ever doing is being a teacher—not that I’m complaining; after all, it's not as if I have the time to.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not Yet

Well, there are still American troops in Iraq; the economy remains in a tailspin; nobody has yet invented cheap non-polluting fuel sources; and I could still stand to lose a few pounds around my midriff.

Come on, Obama-dude, get with it!

Nevertheless, in spite of the dilatory nature of the much-needed changes that have yet to arrive on the shores of our fair country, I—along with countless other human beings whose sociological Venn diagrams overlap with my own—remain beside myself with glee after yesterday’s long-awaited inauguration of the 44th President of the You Ess Of A.

I was on the bus to school during some of Obama’s speech so I listened to it on radio, which was heartwarming in a kind of old-fashioned way although it caused me to miss the sensation that was Aretha’s hat, although I’ve seen lots of pictures since and not a one of them has disappointed.

At Cascadia, there were TVs showing the event everywhere, so I got to catch the last few minutes of Obama’s address which really served to remind me what a relief it’s going to be for at least the next four years to have a Commander-in-Chief who not only knows how to turn a thoughtful phrase and who actually seems to understand the words coming out of his mouth, but who is also fairly easy on the eyes.

The other thing that was sort of striking in a 21st century way, was how many of my colleagues in their offices had their computers tuned to a live feed from our nation’s capitol, something I’m sure wasn’t even technologically feasible a mere four years ago—not that many of them would have been watching even if it were.

It will be interesting to see what sort of changes transpire in the next four years, technological and otherwise, in whatever form we witness the next inauguration, though, it’ll be hard to be a more welcome sight than this one.

Monday, January 19, 2009

That's That

The Steelers dispatched the hated Ravens in yesterday’s AFC Championship game, 23-14, punching their ticket to Superbowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.


I fired up both television sets, put the internet feed on two computers, and occasionally caught the radio broadcast when moving between rooms. And it all seemed to work because Pittsburgh pretty much dominated except for about the last half of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth, when Baltimore crept back into contention with two unanswered touchdowns.

But that’s when I decided to spread out the Terrible Towel with both my parents’ wedding rings atop it; then, with the addition of one more Rolling Rock, everything was set for Troy Palamalu to pick off a Kyle Boller pass and run it back forty yards for a defensive score, sealing the victory, for all intents and purposes, with less than five minutes to play.

Now, there are two weeks of anticipation for the biggest of the big games and while it may be somewhat pleasant to be inundated with a fortnight of news about my hometown heroes, I’d much prefer there was only a week between the conference championships and the league final; but I guess you need to have all the time for the hype and to get all those wealthy corporate types into their luxury boxes in Tampa Bay.

In spite of my devotion to the Black and Gold, I really have no interest in attending the game in person; it might be kind of fun sometime to go to Vegas to watch, but in all likelihood, I’ll take in the contest at home. I see football, in spite of my willingness to go on about it one group of 327 words after another, as essentially a guilty pleasure, one best enjoyed in one’s own living room.

Of course if (when) the Steelers do prevail two weeks from yesterday, I'll be cheering loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Big Game

Naturally, I hope that the Pittsburgh Steelers will win this year’s Superbowl.

But today’s game, the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, is the contest in which I most desperately want them to prevail.

This isn’t simply because the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Baltimore is so intense; nor is it that a case can be made—especially on the basis of records—that the Steelers and the Ravens are the two best teams left playing and that, arguably, the victor in today’s tilt deserves the title of number one in the league even before February’s championship game.

No, a big part of my desire to see my hometown boys prevail has to do with something any football fan—or indeed supporter of any sports team—can recognize: what you want most in the relationship between you and the object of your affection is that the affair last as long as possible. You want your season to go as long as the season. You want to see your guys out there until the bitter (should you lose) or sweet (should you win) end.

So, the thing is, if (that is, when) the Steelers win today, it means I’ll get to enjoy (or at least, experience) watching them one more time, which is all I can really hope for, whether or not they come out on top when all is said and done.

All in all, I think second place (overall, not in the AFC) is underrated. Oh sure, as motivational speakers like to say, “second place is first loser,” but that’s first something, right? I, for one, would gladly take runner-up over also-ran, especially these days when coming in first typically puts one so harshly under the limelight that, more often than not, one’s recreational predilections come a bit too closely under scrutiny.

Of course, in regards to the Steelers, I’m speaking only hypothetically; I have no doubt that not only will they win today, but come February 1st, too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

World's Best Band

Jen and I, along with Mimi and friend Ani, saw the Beatles live in-concert last night.

Well, okay, it was Fountains of Wayne, really, but same thing.

They’ve got the dark-haired cherubic bass player who also composes at the piano, the simply smarter-than-you musical genius guitarist who belts out a song; the goofy drummer, and the ideal hippie dream hollow-body electric guitar player in suede boots.

And their songs and lyrics are perfectly crafted pop—catchy, melodic, with just the right amount of snottiness and irony, most of the time, except when they’re almost accidentally sincere.

It was an all-acoustic (well, except for the electric bass) but the band still managed to sound richly-layered and symphonic. They played all their hits—I guess that would just be “Stacy’s Mom”—but lots of my favorites from Welcome Interstate Managers including “Fire Island” and “Dragon Tatoo” but I liked best a tune called “I-95 “from their most recent album, (which I don’t have), Traffic and Weather.

The reason I never bought their latest was, I think, because I was thinking all their songs started to sound too much alike, and so, you’d be shuffling on iTunes and up would come another fountain of FOW, and you’d be all like, “Oh man, not another one; sounds just like those other ones.”

But after last night, seeing how pretty magically they generate their racket, I’m wanting to go ahead and gorge on them a bit.

Of course, the Triple Door, where they played, always makes things sound better.

John Auer, of the Posies, who opened the show was “complaining” ironically about what a shitty place to play it is and even all the grey-haired white folks who made up most of the crowd got the joke.

I thought it was either heartwarming or gag-inducing that all four of us could enjoy them; the kids sang along, not missing a single word in what about a year ago was their top hit, “Hey Julie.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We Are the World

My mother used to say, “you lie with dogs, you get fleas,” (No, wait, that was my childhood veterinarian, that same one who snipped the nuts offa my childhood kitty, Snoofy.)

Maybe what she used to say was “If you touch pitch you’ll get dirty,” (no that wasn’t it either, that was the Fuller Brush man when he brought around the latest selection of fine bath soaps.

Mom’s advice, now that those Exedrin PMs have worn off and I can recall her words was “Don’t get yourself in a pissing match with somebody who drinks a six-pack before breakfast,” and although she was, of course, referring to my half-uncle Elmo, she just as easily could have been talking about the inimitable (not that anyone would want to do that imitation) Arnica Montana, who seems to have a momentary lapse in recalling that most important admonition of all for anyone as square in the public eye as he and his unique brand of trenchant insights into the American cultural experience surely is: Ain’t no such thing as bad publicity.

All of which to say is that, unlike Monsieur Montana, I have chosen to take the high road and not to behave like the monkeys we are throwing feces at each other across our cage and so I hereby offer the most public—or is that pubic—of apologies for my unfortunate turn of phrase in yesterday’s posting when I might have implied that, in spite of being a perfectly adequate musician, a reasonably acceptable parent, and no worse a blah-gger than many millions of others, he might perhaps—at least on a morning after one of his notorious substance-abuse-induced episodes of attacking a hotel room while on tour—be a few notes shy of the proverbial major chord

So, as the fruit of my own loins is apt to say when I discover her iTunes download bill exceeds the annual budget of a small African nation, “Cool it, Daddio. Sorry.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I can’t believe we’re only a week away from that date you’ve been seeing on the bumper stickers on Subarus and Priuses around town for the last eighteen months or so: 1/20/09, the last day of George Bush’s term, but already, I fear, people are getting at least a little bit disillusioned with his replacement, old whatshisname from Chicago.

Not me, though, at least not yet. I’m going to give Obama a nice long honeymoon period—a month, minimum—before I start complaining. And every good thing he does—like I sure do hope he comes through with that executive order to shut down Guantanamo—earns him extra time, like on a videogame when you blow up a bunch of spaceships or something, although it would also be great if he shut down the Stars Wars Defense program, too.

So what do we have to look forward to in the next seven days? (Besides the Steelers game on Sunday, of course.) Presumably, we’ll get to enjoy the spectacle of President Bush trying to salvage his “legacy” in one way or another while simultaneously pretending that his record stands on its own.

Of course, it does in a way and that way, as everyone knows is: Worst. President. Ever.

Astute readers—and my good friend, Arnica Montana, too—will observe at this point that I’m doing my level best (what is “level” best, anyway? Is there such a thing as unbalanced best?) to fill up the remaining eighty or so words on this 327 word essay, but enlightened readers—and good old Arnica—will also recognize that there’s a method to such madness, which is clearly to model the way in which all of us are merely biding time for the next 188 hours or so until finally, we no longer have to look at old monkey face standing behind the Presidential seal (monkey-seal!) of the United Damn States of America.

A long week ahead, but nothing compared to the endless eight years we’ve been through.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I just finished eating my ceremonial Primanti Brothers-style sandwich—melted provolone and swiss cheeses with cole slaw, thousand islands dressing, and French fries in the middle—and it seemed to help, because just as I was laying a trio of them out on the coffee table, the Steelers scored their first offensive touchdown of the game to go up 14-10 at intermission, but, of course, I’m still nervous, although that could be a function of not having had a sufficient number of Rolling Rocks, and it makes me wonder, as I always do when watching football games I care about, whether it’s worth it, which is to say whether this is really fun, or if it’s just too painful and agonizing from start to finish.

I’m reading Nick Hornby’s memoir of being a soccer fan, Fever Pitch, and he talks about essentially the same thing, reminiscing about how useless he was as a kid on days his favorite team, Arsenal, were playing. I hope I’m not quite such a spazz—I’ve been able to do some work and take care of my usual gameday chores, but I do have to admit that this level of obsession is pretty silly, especially for a man of my advanced years and level of education, but fuck it. As far as obsessions go, this one seems pretty benign, especially since I’ve still been able to restrain myself when it comes to purchasing officially-licensed Steelers’ t-shirts, sweatpants, and bobblehead dolls.

The only thing I really regret in regard to all of this is that back in the day, in the wake of my father’s death, that I didn’t take the opportunity to hold onto his season’s tickets. At that point, I would have had to pay something like three thousand bucks for the seat license to Heinz Field, which seemed excessive at the time, but given that these days people sell them for like sixty grand, sure would buy lots of bobbleheads.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lose Some, Win Some

Here’s how bad a dad I am:

The kid’s playing today in the girls 12 and under city-wide soccer championship. I’m there of course—I’m not THAT bad a dad—standing in the chilly rain with a couple dozen other parents and I’m rooting for her team—the Supremes—to win, thereby culminating their so-far-undefeated season with a victory in the big game.

But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Well, of the two sporting events this weekend that I’m into—the other, of course, being tomorrow’s American Football Conference semi-final between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers—if it really were to come down to a victory in one or the other (and don’t tell this to the kid or her teammates) I’d take the Pittsburgh win.”

Now, naturally, it’s not a zero-sum game; there’s no reason why all the teams I’m rooting for can’t emerge victorious, but you know how the Gods of Sport are: they don’t want to give you too much. Nothing leads more consistently to failure than overreaching; pride goeth before a fall and all that.

No doubt this admission marks me as some kind of soulless monster: I’d rather have a team of overpaid men in spandex pajamas win a game thousands of miles away than have my the squad of my daughter—right in front of me—come through on top after working so hard together all season long.

But so be it; that’s the guy I am, warts and all.

So, guess what? Mimi’s team scores first and goes into halftime ahead 1-0. In the second half, though, their rivals tie it up and the teams find themselves 1-1 after regulation. Finally, on the last penalty kick of the shootout, Mimi’s teammate misses and the Supremes go down to defeat.

Twelve year-old girls are crying left and right (but not my daughter, who just shrugs.) I’m sad, too, on the outside, but inside, I’m thinking, “Cool! Steelers, FTW!”

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Styxing It To 'Em

Maybe I’m jinxing them by saying this, but even if I am a little bit, this latest news trumps that hex and assures (me, anyway) that the Pittsburgh Steelers will indeed beat the San Diego Chargers in this Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field in the Steel City:

According to the Steelers’ website, “multi-platinum rock band Styx will sing the national anthem.” Seems to me that any hope the Bolts might have had of defeating the home team is hereby destroyed; nobody is going to prevail over an organization that hires the band responsible for such album-oriented rock classics as “Come Sail Away,” “Too Much Time on My Hands,” and most importantly, “Mr. Roboto.

I myself was never that big of a Styx fan; they always struck me as the epitome of corporate progressive rock; if I were going to get my fill of popular AOR anthems, I would have gone with Boston or Kansas or, even better, Yes. Still, you’ve got to hand it to the Steelers’ media department for eschewing some contemporary pre-packaged pop singer—your Carrie Underwood or whomever—in favor of a real-live ‘Merican rock group that was already filling arenas back in the days of the Steel Curtain.

In any case, the Black and Gold have been installed as 6 point favorites in the game; if the teams’ previous meetings are any gauge, it might end up being closer than that. My thinking, though, is that with Tomlinson hurt, San Diego is going to really struggle. Plus, given that they’re playing at home and having had the extra week of rest, I think Pittsburgh’s going to be much tougher on the visitors than they have been previously. My prediction is that the score is going to be more on the order of 27-6.

And while you may say this is a Grand Illusion on my part, I’m looking in my Crystal Ball and predicting on Sunday, it’s Domo Arigato, Troy Polamalu.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It's Alive!

Appearance to the contrary, I’m not nuts.

I know the bicycle is an inanimate object. It can’t possibly have any emotions: no mental states, no wishes or preferences.

Still, it sure does seem like my bikes have desires and even weirder, that they occasionally express them, and weirder still, that they express them in devious ways of which even the most nutjob scorned lover on whom you’ve placed a restraining order could only imagine.

Like today, for instance, I’m riding the Saluki and its chain is feeling pretty gritty. All the snow and ice and sand it’s been carrying me through these last few weeks has taken its toll. With each turn of my cranks, I can detect the teeth on my chainrings and cogs being ground down ever so and I know the chain itself is probably suffering something akin to the sensation you have when you’ve got a sharp stone in your shoe that’s stuck there. I realize I ought to put it up on the stand when I get home and do a little preventive maintenance, but I’m just not in the mood, tired from a long day at school and figuring, too bad, the bike can take few more days like this if it has to.

But surprise: as I pedal up the final block towards home, my rear tire goes flat, meaning I’ve got to take the bike down in the basement anyways to fix it, so I may as well deal with the chain and give the rig a going over while I’m at it.

Funny thing, too: no matter how many times I go over the tire with my fingers, I can’t find what punctured it.

My conclusion? Saluki flatted itself in order to get some TLC.

It’s like how when you ride a bike every day, the tires don’t lose air, but if you let it sit, they do. That’s because your bike sighs when you don’t ride it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bike Like

I’m definitely one of those grouchy old people who has his “ways,” such as I’ll brook no use of cellphone technology nor will I set the household thermostat above 59 degrees, but it’s certain I’d be even grouchier (and probably older, too) were it not for the bicycle, which plays a significant part in many if not most of the pleasures I enjoy on a regular basis.

Like, for instance, in my grouchy, old man way, I almost always take an early Sunday morning bike ride. I’m practically Immanuel fucking Kant here, (famously, the wives of Konigsberg were said to have set their clocks to his morning perambulation) with my predictable schedule, but I would never do it with such regularity were it not for the opportunity to get out on two wheels it affords me—and I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly so much did I not get to pedal on the way.

Or take my soon-to-be-once-again (starting tomorrow, when the new quarter kicks off) nearly-twenty-mile-each-way daily commute out to Bothell for school. That I get to usually do at least one way on bicycle nearly every day changes the whole enjoyment equation: instead of being a chore to be tolerated, it gets to be a delightful chance to be out on something reasonably like nature, exercising, and feeling smug and self-satisfied about the reduced size of my carbon footprint.

And of course, we mustn’t overlook all those instance when if I were in a car, I’d just be out drinking but since I’m on a bike, the alcohol consumption is only secondary; what I’m really doing is cross-training for some Olympic event yet-to-be-invented that involves aerobic fitness and internal balance.

Finally, let’s not forget that the pleasures associated with the bicycle are self-reinfocing; that is, the more you ride, the more fun it is; plus, the more time on two wheel, the less you have to blather about it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Riding Around

Like my sister, I’ve internalized this superstition that what you do on New Year’s Day influences what you’ll be doing for the rest of year, so it was important to me that I spend a good amount of time on bike yesterday, even though it’s pretty certain that whether or not I rode at all on January 1, 2009, I’ll still have plenty of opportunities on the other 365 days of the year to be out on two wheels.

But whatever, I loaded up my pannier with the last batch of Christmas cookies to share and pedaled through virtually empty streets to the Greenlake basketball courts for the super-secret and very exclusive New Year’s Day Cargo Bike Ride at just before 1:00 and still had a good half hour or so to hang around before we left, later than usual, but well within appropriate tolerances for a New Year’s Day ride, I think.

We were a small group that got smaller as we passed the Pacific Inn Pub, several of our number joining up with the .83 ride leaving from there around then. I thought about bailing for the warmth of the bar, but decided to stick with where I was, enjoying the company and pace of the current arrangement, and also, because I wanted to see in action military issue wood-burning campstove that this guy Carl, who always comes to the cargo bike rides, was hauling behind his single-speed Swiss or German army bike.

Eventually there were six cyclists ranging from age about 8 to me or slightly beyond who pulled into the shelter at chilly and windy Golden Gardens. We shivered until a tarp was put up and the woodstove got cranking; then, it was like standing around in a cheery beachfront living room with big windows.

I had a beer, then rode around some more, but eventually remembered I want to be home a lot, too, in 2009, so off I went.