Friday, October 28, 2011


Winnie the Pooh observed at Westlake that every time there’s a chance to wear a costume, I show up in a dress.

True enough, but you can’t really expect a person to pass on the opportunity to sport of glittery frock and pedal round town especially when it includes a stint standing in a bar, pretending to be the Princess of a Seven Game World Series while raising a glass and cheering for what turned out to be one the greatest games ever in the history of the Fall Classic.

And speaking of fall classics, it was good to see dear old Ronald McFondle turn up for his annual Halloween shenanigans, which this year, in addition to the requisite bottle rockets and other small ordnance, also featured an abortive attempt to raise an outdoor conflagration ex nihilo from a scavenged wire spool and some broken apart palettes.

Downtown Seattle shimmered across the water like its namesake Emerald City as we sparkled in reflection on the Gasworks Park slab before a short spin to what turned out to be the final three innings of that marvelous game.

As long as baseball’s being played, summer’s not over and only a crusty old toad like Nolan Ryan himself could possibly bemoan those two, count ‘em two, down-to-their-last-strike comebacks by the Redbirds of St. Louie in the bottoms of the ninth and tenth.

Beer, baseball, bikes: even in a tutu, I’m still a guy, so it was the total sportsgasm experience, topped by a bomb through the woods to a bar I thought we’d drunk at before, but may not be back to for a while after the chilly send-off I got from the cook who vowed to remember my face should I ever return wanting food, not that I imagine he’d recognize me without the long blonde locks and twinkly hoop skirt.

But who knows? It’s only a year until next Halloween’s ride and I already know what I’m wearing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Here’s another thing I like about riding my bike everywhere: free stuff for my shop!

Yesterday, I picked up a perfectly good pair of Vice-Grips that were just lying in the street, nowhere near the pickup truck they probably fell out of. Not only are they a useful addition to the stock of tools in my workbench, they also go really well with the screwdriver I scored last week as I pedaled home from school.

This isn’t all that an uncommon phenomenon, either. I’ll bet that I find some sort of useful (or broken) something or other at least every other week. It ranges from a simple box wrench one day to, on another occasion, a cordless electric drill, complete in a box with the charger and everything. (Admittedly, it turned out to be busted—I think from being run over by a passing car—but still, a pretty good find; someone at Goodwill, where I eventually took it, surely made out well with it.)

Of course, I haven’t bought a bungee cord in years; I rarely go more than a week or two without finding one abandoned by the side of the road. Now, you might think that those that have sprung themselves from whatever they were holding onto might not be so desirable, but none of those I’ve garnered have given me any trouble; they certainly work just fine on my bike trailer.

I suppose I might do a better job of trying to return the loot that I come across to its rightful owners and, in my defense, I have, from time to time, placed whatever item has presented itself to me on the hood the nearest automobile, although admittedly, when it comes to box-cutters (of which I’ve found three or four) that strikes me as courting danger, at least indirectly.

It’s safer for me to take these things home, just like the dime of devil's lettuce I found near the park last week.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Today was one of those overscheduled days, where I had to be watching the clock from the very first breath of my first yoga pose of the morning, all the way through my early class, a meeting with my college president, the bus ride between Cascadia and the UW, my second stint teaching of the afternoon, and even the bike ride home.

No sir, I don’t like.

Back when I was a callow youth, sometime in the 20th century, I used to feed on this sort of thing. I recall one day, for instance, must have been 1985; I was living in Los Angeles, eking out a meager sustenance with at least three jobs—syndicated radio production, temporary office worker, and aspiring comedy writer—and my schedule required me to race back and forth across the city, getting from West Hollywood to Downtown and then up to Burbank with negative numbers of minutes between my destinations.

I actually had to go backwards through time to get where I needed to go when I needed to get there.

The heart-pounding thrill of it all was thrilling to me; snaking through traffic like a madman was my idea of fun. Having no time to think, much less to eat or excrete made me feel like my life really mattered and that I was destined for great things, some of which I was already doing.

Nowadays, by contrast, I despise being in a hurry. I’d rather get out of bed three hours before I have to be somewhere only an hour away just so I don’t have feel that sensation that I’m almost running behind. I’m one of those old people who shows up at the airport for their flight two and half hours ahead of its schedule departure; I even typically give myself 90 minutes of preparation in advance of heading off to teach a class.

Truth be told, I even allocated nearly 10 whole minutes to write this.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I’m interested in the difference, if there is one, between reliable and predictable, or, let’s say, between dependable and boring.

In both cases, the former term is an admirable quality, the latter, a trait we generally try to eschew. I’m perfectly happy being a reliable husband, father, and teacher; I get a little nervous when my wife, daughter, or students can predict beforehand what I’m going to do around the house or in the classroom.

Similarly, it’s comforting to know that there are certain qualities and experiences one can generally depend upon come a cool and dry Thursday evening in October, but at the same time be able to rest assured that those familiar shenanigans will—in spite of their familiarity (and perhaps, even to some extent, because of it)—rarely, if ever, be in the least bit boring.

Besides, I’d never seen a moon quite like the one that hovered over our hobo peleton as we wound around a newly-paved trail on top of Beacon Hill: the mist had softened and shaded the lunar satellite’s edges such that the normally two-dimensional disk in the sky looked instead like a silver sphere nestled in the downy heavens.

Nor do I recall the bomb from up there to our provision stop being so hilariously extended; two or three times I thought it had ended only to have the road dive deeper down into the welcoming woods.

And of course, fire is fire, but being fire, always burns anew, especially when fueled by palettes carried three miles by single arms on two-wheelers.

Joeball and I had pondered a bar in the middle of things to which we’d never been or at least, not in a while, but rolling out from the park, an inexorable gravity drew us all back to a familiar ID haunt and yet, even that was full of surprise: I, for one, had never before caroused in circles to an Angry Hippy version of Piano Man.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


I did the unthinkable today.

Even though the Steelers were the early game, I went to Sunday morning yoga class, thereby missing not only the kickoff, but as it turned out, all but the last 42 seconds of the first half.

Amazingly, though, it worked out, as the Black n’ Gold, even without my assistance, dominated the Tennessee Titans, for a 38 to 17 victory (that wasn’t even really that close) at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.


Does this mean my superstitious ways will now be put on hold, and I’ll no longer have to worry about wearing my lucky shirt, eating the propitious sandwiches, and laying out my late Mom and Dad’s wedding rings on the table to ensure a Steelers’ victory?

Probably not; probably I’ll just make it a new practice to go to Sarah Plummer’s led Ashtanga class on gamedays like today; so far, it’s an infallible technique for securing that my team prevails.

Of course, this might not be so strange as it sounds; there is a precedent. Back in the day, when I was a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan, I discovered a correlation between how many laps I swam in the swimming pool and whether the Boys in Blue won that night. It turned out that if I completed at least 40 lengths of the pool, doing the Australian Crawl, I could pretty much count on the Dodgers winning. I ever wrote to the team management to let them know about this curious, but entirely predictable phenomenon. Oddly enough, they never got back to me.

During the last Superbowl, in which the Steelers succumbed to the Green Bay Packers, I was sitting on my couch in India, listening to the game on internet radio at 5:30 in the morning, waiting to head off to the yoga shala by 8:00. The Steelers lost, of course, and now I know why: instead of waiting to practice, I should’ve already been on my mat.

Friday, October 07, 2011


When, upon calling tehSchkott for coordinates some two hours or so after the ride had begun and he told me where it had landed, I reckoned how long it would take me to get there and asked where the assembled would likely be in an hour, he said: “Right here. It’s one of those kind of nights.”

And indeed it still was when I pedaled up sixty or so minutes later, greeted with the most heartwarming wet-eyed and slurry salutations a fellow could be welcomed with.

And though I had a lot of catching up to do, having missed the grain alcohol cocktails tehJobies had treated folks to unrelated to Chief Science Officer Forsetti’s birthday, I immediately felt the heady contact high that inevitably flows into one’s consciousness when engulfed by familiar characters in familiar states of intoxication, revelry, and bicycle-induced endorphin release.

In this life, you’ve got to have a crew, otherwise you’re sunk, and even when quotidian responsibilities mean you’re only able to show up briefly, it’s worth it, just for the visuals and audio: songs were sung; solos became duets; trios morphed into choirs; and dance parties flared up like Zippo sprayed on the campfire.

Huge messy bike piles outside a public house remain one of my favorite things in all the world. Sometimes when I’m out pedaling around on another night of the week, I’ll see an array of two-wheelers locked near a bar and my heart will all but skip a beat, trained as I am to see such a sight as evidence that, at last, I’ve arrived.

As I was locking my rig last night to a jumbled heap of others I recognized from following their tail lights on many a night past, an apparently very well-lubricated (euw, no, I mean “drunken”) Daryl went into a sweet rant about how Professor Dave always locates the gang no matter where it is.

But it’s easy: you just ride around until you’re found.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I was teaching a philosophy class as a graduate student when I heard that O.J. Simpson had been acquitted. The students and I spent the entire session—when we were “supposed” to be going over readings on the mind-body problem—talking epistemology: How could anyone know what had happened the night of the killings? Was there really any good reason to conclude that he was innocent? Was it true that, “If the glove don’t, fit you must acquit?”

Most of the class concluded that the evidence in support of his guilt was overwhelming, that the standard of “reasonable doubt” hadn’t been attained. (Oddly, most of them also had a notoriously relativistic conception of truth, something to effect of “what’s true for me is true for me; what’s true for you is true for you,” but that seemed to go out the window when people’s lives were at stake.)

Yesterday, when the news of Amanda Knox’s acquittal came over the internetz, I was at my desk, preparing to teach my own Intro to Philosophy class, but in contrast to the O.J. verdict, I wasn’t immediately compelled to throw out my planned lesson in favor of discussing this ruling.

Does this suggest that it’s somehow more intriguing from the point of view of epistemology when apparently guilty people are found to be innocent than when allegedly guilty individuals are ruled innocent? Is the former somehow stranger to our sense of truth than the latter?

Maybe there’s one of those sociobiological explanations in play here: our hunter-gatherer ancestors, for instance, would have been more interested in bad guys getting way with shit than good guys being unfairly punished. Creatures who failed at the latter would have less of a likelihood of passing on their genes than those who failed at the former. So, maybe we’re hard-wired in this way.

I usually resist such explanations, but I dunno. One thing I’m sure of, though: the whole sorry story is a tragedy.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


After all these years, and probably, if truth be told, somewhere near the end of the useful life of the phenomenon, we finally broke down and bought the huge 250-channel television package, and then, a couple weeks later, the giant 42” flat-screen HD TV.

Welcome to the 21st century, I guess.

So now I can sit here on the couch, remote in hand, and watch at least three live sporting events simultaneously, thereby pretty much completely turning off my mind and living the good life as defined by American males everywhere coast-to-coast.


Additionally, I can follow along on the radio so as to listen to the local announcers for the Washington Huskies game, and tomorrow, of course, I’ll screen the Steelers contest while catching the audio from Pittsburgh on the internet.

So much for getting anything productive done on the weekend, huh?

I’ve gotten so used to the incredible resolution on the HD big screen that I no longer marvel at being able to see the blemishes and razor burn on the faces of big leaguers. But I’m still not prepared for how food commercials look; I must say there’s nothing particularly appetizing about Taco Bell tacos or Jack-in-the-Box hamburgers glistening in glorious 1080p.

Currently, I’m switching between the American League baseball playoffs, college football, and major league soccer. I hardly give a damn about the outcome of any of these events, but I nevertheless am enjoying the spectacle. I haven’t, admittedly, fallen into the habit of plopping myself down with a bowl of cereal to watch cartoons all day long, but who knows? Bugs Bunny is pretty amazing at this degree of clarity.

We didn’t buy the super-duper special package that includes HBO, Showtime, and all the premium channels; that’s probably just as well; I’ve got to get some grading done one of these days.

Right now, though, I’m gonna just keep chillin’; all I need to complete things is my beer and a taco.