Thursday, November 24, 2011


This being Thanksgiving, I’m doing my patriotic duty as an American male by watching me some football on the big-screen TV in high-definition.

As silly as the sport it, it’s nevertheless relatively relaxing—primarily because the Steelers aren’t playing—to watch large men in tights run around and into each other for the enjoyment of fans in the stands and catching the game on the tube.

I do have to say, though, that there are a couple of things about the sport I just find terribly annoying, namely above all, fucking pass interference and holding penalties. It seems to me that the refs could call either of them on just about every single play, and so it’s relatively arbitrary when they do.

To my way of thinking, they ought to let defensive backs do whatever they want to receivers when the ball is in the air; tackle the guy, poke him in the eye, punch his nuts—that would make catching a pass something meaningful rather than the sissified nonsense it is right now.

Similarly, the league should allow linemen to use whatever means they want—tripping, punching, nut-punching—to keep defensive backs away from their quarterback, and it would likely even out whatever advantage would accrue to the defense for being allowed to smash receivers.

As a general rule, officials have way too much effect on the game; I say let the players play, even if it means—well, especially if it means—that there is increased mayhem and violence on the field.

Naturally, I don’t really want to see players getting hurt—except, of course, Tom Brady—but isn’t the game suppose to be all about which team is more physical?

Back in the days of the Steel Curtain in Pittsburgh, they used to let linebackers wear casts on their forearms to crack the heads of their opponents; that’s the kind of play that I miss; how about going back to leather helmets for everyone?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Even the steadiest downpour has some nuance.

On my ride today from Bothell to the U-District, which easily qualifies as my wettest ride of the season, the rain never stopped, but it did seem to let up from time to time.

But that could have been just during the climbs, when I hit fewer raindrops by going slower. Come to think of it, all of the times when it seemed the rain was falling hardest were times I was heading downhill.

So, I dunno

What I am sure of though, is that it really wasn’t so bad, at least when I was all geared up with plastic pants and shoe covers.

In fact, I got more soaked, after I’d taken my gear off to enjoy a cup of coffee in my old graduate school favorite, Parnassus coffee shop, riding from the Art Building (in whose basement Parnassus resides) to Savery Hall (where my afternoon class takes place)—a distance of maybe 200 yards—than I did in the 14 or so miles from Cascadia to the UW.

My only real complaint is that it wasn’t 10 degrees colder so all this would be snow; we’d probably have three feet on the ground now and the Thanksgiving break would already have started.

I guess I could also lodge my standard objection to wet gloves, too; although I planned ahead for a change and brought an extra pair, so I didn’t have to don the soaking ones after my UW class for the ride home.

So, all in all, a reasonably comfortable pedal through what some wags are calling the “Rainpocalypse.” Of course, I’ll be sick of the wet soon enough if it keeps up; at this point, though, I’m still finding it sort of amusing given our fairly dry November so far.

In my mind, December’s when it gets really shitty; sideways rain, days that get dark by 3:30; and worst of all, gloves that smell of cheese.

Friday, November 18, 2011


One of the standard “problems” in philosophy is the so-called “problem of personal identity.” Essentially, it’s the “what makes me ‘me?’” question, and is particularly puzzling when we wonder about identity over time.

The nub of the issue is that because we change so much from year to year, it’s hard to see how one can conclude we remain the same person all of our lives. After all, I’m nothing like the infant I was more than half a century ago, so why should I claim that that baby with his bottle and me with mine are identical. After all, from the standpoint of our physical, mental, or even biological properties we’re not.

There are, of course, “solutions” to the problem. We can talk about bodily continuity, or a kind of connected chain of memories, or, if we want to go all dualist, we might propose that it’s the singularity of soul that defines me consistently.

Frankly, I’m most sympathetic to the so-called “illusion theory,” which says that the “self” doesn’t really exist. All we are is an ongoing collection of mental states and physical attributes; just like Oakland, California without its “there” there, here I am without any “me” here.

But then that means that all “I” am is what I think and do at any moment. The strange implication of this, if I understand it, is that if I don’t do the things I do then I’m no longer who I am anymore.

If I skip a day of my yoga practice, as I more than halfway did yesterday then apparently, I’m no longer a student of Ashtanga.

If I stop writing 327 word essays and posting them to the internetz, then I can’t say that I’m still a “blogger” (not that I’d have any interest in so defining myself.)

On the other hand, if I miss the weekly Point83 ride, I’m still a cycling miscreant: it was just once and not because of weather.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I had explained to Joeball why I was seriously entertaining the notion that inanimate objects occasionally pop out of existence and then back in again: right before Westlake, I stopped at the ATM to withdraw beer money, but my wallet was nowhere to be found.

I dug through my bags at least three times and had just resigned myself to the fact that I must have dropped the fucking thing back at the coffeeshop in Eastlake.

So, I’m reaching for my phone to try and call them, when I’ll be damned if the billfold doesn’t present itself under my fingers right where I’d searched repeatedly with a fine-toothed comb only moments before.

No surprise, then, that it was he who pointed out that the phenomenon reoccurred later in the evening: when Submariner Matthew managed to achieve what Lee Williams rightly describes as an “escheresque chain suck” while navigating the roller coaster paths through Discovery Park’s woods behind the Angry Hippy’s fearless lead.

Clearly, there was no way that loop-de-loop around crank arm and chainring could have happened had some part of his drive train not exited this temporal realm and then reappeared back on the bike with its atoms inverted slightly.

And while I still think that had we flipped his rig and taken a longer look at the contorted metal we might have figured out how to untangle it, you had to love the opportunity to stand around outside in the woods on a full moon night and kibbitz Fancy Fred while he performed open heart surgery with all-in-one tools to get our nautical comrade seaworthy again.

Insert seaman joke here!

It’s probably crazy, of course, to think reality isn’t continuous, and that wallets and chains perform these feats of inter-dimensional travel, but I don’t know.

Consider the macro version of the same phenomenon: teleportation of several dozen bike riders to a lunar-lit paradise and back in under two hours.

How else you gonna explain it?

Friday, November 04, 2011


Charlie don’t surf.

Papa don’t preach.

And Joeball don’t do no out-and-backs.

Instead, he pulls from his seemingly bottomless quiver of tricks yet another never-seen option and escorts you through the riparian forest wormhole where mountains are scaled with no climbing at all.

Just another night on two wheels tracing ancient land routes that would have taken old Chief Sealth a week of vision-questing to complete but which, simply by following blinkies, balancing atop marshes, and ignoring every rule on the sign except the one about Jeeps, you can navigate in just a few starry hours on an evening so ideally suited to the task it sows laughter even without any vegan whipcream.

It’s always confused me how a perfect lunar half-circle is called the quarter moon but it nevertheless made all the sense in the world to be bathed in its milky glow as the flames circled closer and charmed for a moment while sparks rose and all those indigenous shamans from way back when chilled alongside.

Ponder alternate realities just inches away. You can slide over to visit then pull the scrim back on return but what’s most amazing of all is the mundane: human-powered adventures fueled by open flame, familiar voices curling like smoke on night air, and trails that interface between land and river; man, if that don’t tickle the grease monkey within, it’s time to pedal harder.

Getting lost is most fun when you can also lose yourself, and that only happens when it's all relax and rely; and though I admit I couldn’t picture the hill-free loop beforehand, I wasn’t really all that surprised as it unspooled.

After all, we’ve been down this road before—a totally different one, of course, but another which no way doubles-back upon itself neither.

It’s like an inhale, then exhale, and there you are, back in a bar eating peanuts almost like the amazing is ordinary which, amazingly, it is—all the way 'round.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I have a Burke-Gilman Trail-shaped hole in my heart.

It’s not the whole thing; just the part from 25th and Blakely through Lake Forest Park, the part I nowadays skip by riding up from Montlake through Lake City and down the 522 to 175th and Bothell Way.

It’s not so bad on the ride out to school from home; time-wise, it doesn’t really take me any longer than staying on the trail did. Pedaling past all the car dealerships in Lake City isn’t as pleasant as cruising by Lake Washington to be sure, but I don’t mind it too much since it’s generally still light out when I’m doing so.

It’s the coming home that sort of sucks, especially the grind up Lake City Way from the Lake Forest Park Shopping Center. That’s where I all too often yield to the temptation to wait for the bus downtown, even on nights when it’s not raining and an extra ten or twelve miles of riding would be a good way to pass an hour or so.

It’s been this way since summer, when construction crews began work on the trail; the signs say they’re going to be done December 15; from the looks of things, it may be sooner than that.

Paving is completed from Log Boom Park in Kenmore at least as far as 175th. You get to ride on new asphalt for about 20 feet before the detour begins. This has only served to whet my appetite for the rest of the newly-restored route.

I’ve often thought, over the past nine years of riding the trail four or five days a week, that were it not for its existence, I probably wouldn’t be so consistent of a bike commuter from Seattle to Bothell. These past five months of detour have done nothing to dissuade me; I think I can hold out, though, for another month or so, and my cycling heart to be whole once more.