Thursday, April 28, 2011


I know that some people find it so hard to believe that no matter what evidence I put forward, they’ll continue to doubt, but the truth is, I was born on planet earth and therefore do qualify as eligible to be King of the World.

And while I refuse to dignify questions about my origins by responding to the haters who refer to me as a “space-case” or “alien,” I have decided to post my birth certificate just in case an appeal to evidence might have any bearing whatsoever on the beliefs of certain people.

Not that reasoned discourse happens to be the preferred mode of public debate these days; rather, it seems like all you have to do is spout whatever ideas come into your head as loudly as possible over and over again until somebody with a microphone and/or camera begins to listen and take you somewhat seriously.

(Of course, that’s been my strategy on this weblog for the past five years, without much popular success, but I digress.)

Besides, the “earth-born” requirement for Planetary Regent strikes me as outdated, anyway. After all, these days, somebody constructed in a test tube, or put together out of silicon chips is allowed to be Earth’s king, just so long as those operations took place on this third rock from the sun. Conversely, a child born to two carbon-based homo sapiens, using the time-honored (albeit rather messy) method of sexual intercourse, is disqualified just because his or her parents happened to be visiting Titan or some other extraterrestrial vacation spot in the solar system when the joyous occasion of birth occurred.

As a consequence, some of our greatest statespeople, including the current half-human, half-Venusian prime minister can’t accede to the top spot on the planet, while the vast majority of the current prison population could.

As for me, I trust the evidence I present here puts this issue to bed; I know I’m ready for a nap, anyway.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Obviously, some things are more worthwhile to do than others: volunteering at an orphanage or writing great works of literature has to be a better use of one’s time than sitting on a couch reading fiction, but it’s all the stuff in the middle that’s hard to quantify.

Like, for instance, which is superior? Going to the dentist to get one’s teeth cleaned? Or picking up the dog poop in your backyard? Riding your bike to the dry cleaners to retrieve the laundry? Or hanging out in the bike shop talking about punk music with the head mechanic?

And does any of it really matter given that the human race will inevitably go extinct sooner or later (if not sooner), and that every single thing any of us have ever done, from Shakespeare and his plays to Steve Jobs and his iPod will be nothing more than dust at best.

I know I ought to be doing more with my days, but I’m not entirely sure what “more” means. As long as I’m not actively making the world a better place—writing Shakespeare plays, for example—then does it really matter whether I’m doing yoga or taking a walk? I could be practicing flute, I guess, but why that instead of prepping for my summer philosophy class?

I realize, of course, that this is one of those “problems” that is really a privilege. If I were an impoverished auto-rickshaw driver in India and had no choice but to hang around the coffee stand all day in hopes of drumming up a couple fares before nightfall, these questions would never emerge. And even last year at this time, when I was teaching 3 classes, I never had the luxury of wondering about whether it was a worthwhile use of my time to spend six hours of my life grading.

So, I guess I’ll just live with it; at least I’m not wasting my time (right now) watching Youtube.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I hop off my bike at the bus stop the other day and while I’m removing my gloves and arranging myself, this middle-aged gentleman in a suit comes over and gets in my face and says, “That was a red light, you know.”

I’m not exactly sure what he’s talking about, so my reply might not have been exceptionally articulate: “Huh?” I say.

“That light. It was red. You ran right through it.”

As a matter of fact, I didn’t; I tried to explain that I had the light across the intersection and then was simply cutting left across the crosswalk to enter the lane in front of the bus stop, but he wasn’t hearing it.

“I saw you run that light,” he maintains. “Just like all you bicycle riders; if you want to be taken seriously on the road, you have to obey the laws,” he insists.

Whatever. I shrug and let him just walk away.

But after a moment, I decide to engage,

“Listen,” I say, “I don’t think I ran that light, but even if I had, I’m not sure I agree with you about unquestionably obeying the laws.”

“So, you take traffic lights as simply advisory?” he asks.

“I think that’s right,” I respond. “I mean, it’s 7:00 in the morning; the streets are empty; I hardly think I need to sit in the rain at a deserted intersection.”

This sets him off completely. He sputters that he sees cyclists running lights constantly, that he was almost hit by a bike in a crosswalk, and that cars don’t break laws, so bikes shouldn’t either.

To the first claim, I mention that he may be experiencing confirmation bias; to the second, I point out he wasn’t actually hit; and to the third, I encourage him to notice how many drivers do speed and run lights, too.

I didn’t change his mind, but he admitted he might have been mistaken about my running the light.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I feel sorry for human beings; we’re such pathetic creatures.

Everyone is so lonely; the fundamental human condition is one of profound solitude. We’re all trying to connect with something else, but, by definition, the effort to do so is doomed.

Tonight, I walked around a bit and saw people’s minor aspirations foiled; imagine how dashed their deepest dreams must be.

My waiter was taken aback that I only ordered a salad; just think of how real disappointments must hurt.

I’m not even sure I believe this; perhaps I’m just responding to a day during which I sat way too much; few things are worse for one’s psyche than being stuck in a chair. Unfortunately, as an attendee of a philosophy conference, that’s pretty much what I’ve got to look forward to for the next three days.

One thing is obvious: nearly everyone believes that sensual pleasure equals happiness. Notice the proliferation of restaurants, fast cars, and luxury appointments. But it’s just as clear that none of these things will really bring happiness—not that it’s easy at all to see what will.

I read in the paper today about a 16 year-old girl who survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge, something only about 2 in 100 people do. Were that the case for you, would you try again? Or would you take it as a sign of something and devote your life to living?

And if you did, what would that mean? I can’t imagine you’d ever want to sit at a podium on the street in San Diego and try to convince passersby to come have dinner at the restaurant that employs you. But would you sign up to be a monk instead?

That’s my point (assuming I have one); no matter what we do, it’s all just pointless. I don’t know what this means; perhaps it’s just further evidence that all one can really do is rise early and begin Surya Namaskara.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I always think of bike-riding in Portland as a mellow experience; the town’s so bike-friendly, groovy, and flat that going out on two wheels is remarkably easy and pleasant.

However, if it’s after midnight, you’re all alone in some part of town that looks entirely unfamiliar, the evening’s entertainment has sort of caught up with you, and the general direction you think you ought to be heading back towards your hotel seems to be across what appears to be in interstate bridge without a shoulder, then things can get a little weird and scary.

So, you decide to take a break at the brightly lit bar that suddenly appears to your left; once inside, you realize that it’s the kind of place that gives you your change all in one dollar bills, which reassures you that if there are other bike riders in the vicinity, they might be expected to appear before too long.

And if that isn’t exactly what happens: you finish your drink, head out, feeling generally restored, and no sooner do you go another mile or so, than a vast contingent of cyclists comes heading right towards you and then, in what has to qualify as a “Groundhog Day” (the movie) moment, you follow them and, in moments, find yourself back at the very watering hole you’d left not ten minutes earlier.

This time, though, the place doesn’t seem nearly as exotic and foreboding as it did before, and by carrying on an outdoor conversation with an acquaintance whose bearings are better than your own, you’re able to envision your route home.

It takes you across the aforementioned bridge, which turns out to be nothing particularly frightening at all, merely an under-construction roadway which leads you almost right back to where you need to get to after all.

And so, the freaky redneck river town turns back into to the charming little village again, where well-marked bike lanes lead you gently home once more.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


As a matter of fact, one might actually aspire to being miles from home, well after midnight, deep in one’s cups, with only a bicycle for transportation. And while it took the entire night to get there, eventually the goal was met and I achieved my hoped-for post-last call two-wheeled ramble home on what turned out to be an exceptionally clear and cool early spring evening in the Pacific Northwest.

I caught up with the a ride a couple hours into it as it rolled up 19th Avenue from the Bridge to Nowhere (which, according to Andre is now, once again, somewhere, albeit a glass-strewn one) and thanks to a family sushi dinner pre-funk that included two giant orders of sake, was more or less in the same place psychologically as the riders who had started their evening’s booze n’ cruise earlier than me.

We headed to the inevitable ride-suck that is Capitol Hill to spend a couple of amusing (although essentially bike-free) hours at Organ Karaoke, an event made almost palatable by Fancy Fred and Lee’s rendition of the “it” song of he moment and by the generous shots poured by the tragically hip bartender.

Still, I was glad to be out of there at last and on the way to outdoor imbibing, even though a detour for nightcaps at some drinking establishment whose details escape me now meant that I at least, never did arrive at have no recollection whatsoever of Gasworks Park—nor, if truth be told did anyone else, if I recall correctly (not that there’s any reason whatsoever to suppose that in fact, I do.)
although, apparently, it must have happened because, as is required, there ARE pics.

Nevertheless, in the end, I got to enjoy most of what one looks for on a Thursday night ride: conviviality, shenanigans, and eventually, a sufficient number of miles out riding one’s bike—despite the fact some of the last ones are sort of lost in the kind of mist one occasionally is apt to experience internally even on such a cloudless night.

Friday, April 01, 2011


It’s a good thing I’ve given up all recreational stimulants so that my head is clear enough to accurately recall everything that went down on last night’s maybe moderately all right, average at best ride last night.

I mean it would have been enough that not only one, but two (young and old) Wreyfords showed up, back to Seattle for good with new jobs as a certified public accountant and a police officer respectively, and that neither was whisked unconscious off to Harborview before the night was out, but what was really mind-blowing was to see Aaron Goss, who arrived on his new carbon fiber Cervelo and tehJobies (wearing a brown tweed vest!) cuddling in the park shelter after a couple drinks and proclaiming loudly to anyone who’d listen that they were now BFs 4 ever, no matter what.

Of course, this was after Andre led us on a well-marked bike trail to an indoor shopping mall where we stood around and admired the fake fire displays in a hardware store before riding quietly away. And subsequent to when Lee talked us all out of cycling on the freeway express lanes so we could stop instead at that quaint teahouse for steaming cups of chamomile blend.

The Angry Hippy was in rare form, too, especially after that second flat tire, when he started crying and had to have that girl change the tube for him. It was so sweet to see how thankful he was!

But, of course, not nearly as thankful as Derrick, who expressed his deep gratitude to all of us for putting up with his drunken shenanigans and promising never to do anything that might embarrass anyone ever again.

tehSchkott was so taken with the display that he stopped talking about his new bike!

And Henry and Jeff, bless their Summer Babes hearts, sang an impromptu bicycle-powered set of Barry Manilow tunes!

Right then was when I swore off cannabis and bike-riding for good.