Saturday, December 31, 2011


I generally contend that 1987 was my favorite year:

I got married, came this close to publishing my first novel, wrote most of an unpublished second, spent seven months living in Paris and the south of France with my blushing bride, and basically got to live out most of the dreams I had about life at that time.

I usually consider 1997 a close second:

I became a father, bought a house, finished my Master’s Degree in Philosophy, co-wrote a second self-help book with my friend and co-author Richard Leider, started doing yoga pretty seriously, and basically took the important foundational steps to becoming the version of an adult that I am today.

I’m putting 2011 right up there, though:

I travelled to India to study yoga for two and a half months, wrote a soon-to-be-published book on doing Philosophy with young pre-college students, co-rewrote the third edition of Repacking Your Bags, the book Richard Leider and I wrote that has sold something like 300,000 copies worldwide, survived the 13th year of my daughter’s life, rode my bike at least 7000 miles, sold five Haulin’ Colin trailers, managed to bend myself into Marichasna D with almost daily regularity and in general, got to do everything I wanted most of the time.

Lots of people claim—and many with ample justification—that things are getting worse in the world year after year. That may be—and certainly is from an environmental standpoint, for instance—but in my little life, at least, the possibility of improvement still exists.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever have a year to top ’87 and I can’t see ’97 falling out of second place, but if these past 365 days are any gauge, it’s not impossible that there will be other times upon which I can look back as fondly as I do these.

Here I am, getting nostalgic for the present; how odd. I can see shedding tears for auld lang syne, but new?

Friday, December 23, 2011


Ironically, on my first Thursday night out in a many a moon (well, probably only about one and a half to be precise), the ride went so close to my house that had I been there, I probably could have pedaled out, stood around the fire, and been back in my living room reading Edith Wharton before even my dog would have noticed.

As it was, however, I got to enjoy the full menu of delights on the evening’s agenda, including hot buttered rums, warm peppermint patties (the liquid version), tunnel screaming, Pioneer Square bar-shopping which resulted—on a successful search to locate a “historical” watering hole—in having our very own subterranean clubhouse christened beneath Seattle’s oldest drinking establishment, and then, a short, but bracing spin to what’s become, more or less, the “go-to” spot for belting out tunes, although, admittedly, I only lasted a beer’s worth before heading home right about pumpkin hour.

Motormouth Matt provided the warm libations in honor of the day Seattle’s first municipal ordinance (against drunkenness and disorderly conduct) went into effect and so it seemed particularly appropriate that most of the evening was spent breaking those constraints, but what I noticed was that in spite of this, no matter where we went, it was all about spreading the love, from some random neighbor walking his dog just about to run home, grab his bike and join in, to the bartender at our underground hideaway who was all but ready to give us keys to the joint for next time we came back.

“There’s no place like home for the holidays” goes the old Perry Como classic and though uncontentiously true, it therefore comes down to what qualifies as home. Family comes first, natch, but then there’s the extended-play version which includes all those undiscovered and rediscovered routes through our fair city that routinely involve fire and fellowship and lead through history and hijinks to home’s traditionally preferred location, the heart.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I’ve got everything a guy could want in life: a loving family, a good job, a lovely little house in the best neighborhood in town; and I get to ride my bike pretty much every day.

The only thing that’s missing—and not always, mind you—is a bit more of the unexpected. Not that I’m asking for it, but I do find myself kind of at a loss when someone asks me “What’s new?”

As it turns out, not much.

I’m happy with that for the most part; quite honestly, like anyone who’s being honest with himself, I fear change. Give me pretty much the same thing day after day and that’s fine. For example, I’ve eaten basically the same breakfast for the last three months and am not bothered a bit by it.

Still, this does make it difficult when I’m scanning about for something to write about; I used to have no problem writing about anything—or even nothing—but these days, I feel like if I’ve got no news to report, then why report at all?

I’ve missed my main source of content, the weekly .83 ride, for more than a month now. Time flies during this time of the year, what with the quarter ending the holidays now in full swing, but it’s hard to believe it’s been so long.

Fortunately, my commute from school has given me some opportunities to simulate the experience, albeit all by my lonesome—which makes the reporting of shenanigans highly unlikely.

Last night, even though I didn’t join in the two-wheeled holiday festivities, I did manage to pedal to a nearby watering hole where I drank a couple drinks, eyed the hipsters, and enjoyed a brief, but slightly tipsy ride back to my house.

Not much to write home about, but then again, not much to complain about either. Besides, now that’s school’s out for winter break, who knows what’s in store: mystery, adventure, Santa Claus.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


One of the standard proofs for God’s existence is the so-called “Fine Tuning Design Argument,” which begins by observing the innumerable universal constants that had to be just right for our Universe to come into existence and ultimately support life, and concludes that the likelihood of this happening is just too infinitesimal to have happened without a designer—namely God, who therefore, exists.

As it turns out, people make a similar argument when, at the finish of a bicycle “poker run” in celebration of the winter holidays, you show up with a hand featuring all eights which—even though they weren’t wild as would have befitted the event’s .83 sponsorship—was immediately judged as too perfect to have resulted from mere chance.

“That’s a cheater hand,” is how the Angry Hippy put it, which, of course, raises the question of what actually constitutes cheating among a group of miscreants for whom rules are anathema.

And although I’ll admit that I did do some persuading of the good people handing out cards at the checkpoints, I don’t think the mere implausibility of my perfect deal is alone evidence that it couldn’t have arisen naturally.

After all, even a royal flush is not nearly so unlikely as what went down overall: a rain-free December evening in Seattle, complete with often-visible full moon; several dozen drunken fools on bicycles scattering blindly through a public park at night without a single broken collarbone; feats of strength including not one, but two, skinny dippers in the freezing Puget Sound; an hilarious holiday bacchanalia with prizes for many and gifts for all; live music by the Summer Babes, gratis; all this organized and made possible with no motive other than good, clean, and sometimes embarrassing fun by nonsense-makers of the highest order, for just four bucks a head.

You want to talk unlikely? That anyone, anywhere should be lucky enough to do shit like Holitacular 2011.

And even more improbable? Six years running.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Reality is overrated. Really.

On the other hand, this may be a meaningless claim given that it’s not at all clear what reality is.

Let’s stipulate that when we use the term “reality,” we’re talking about our everyday experience of the world, unmediated by any consciousness-altering substances or experiences.

But, of course, that begs the question (in the appropriate sense of the term, circular reasoning), because now we’re left wondering what such substances and experiences might be.

Does coffee count? Sugar? How about an hour and a half of yoga practice? Or what about if I get less than my usual eight hours or so of sleep a night? It seems like it’s going to be very difficult to establish what qualifies as “everyday experience.”

Suppose, then, we take some average as the baseline. Call “reality” something like “the everyday experience I have of the everyday mostly every day.” Fair enough.

In that case, then, yes, “reality” is indeed overrated. Granted, it is when one gets most of one’s productive work completed; it also provides a foundation for identifying what doesn’t qualify as reality, but I do think there’s still much to be said for stepping outside it on a fairly regular basis, at the very least for the opportunity to look in on it and see what’s going on from a different perspective.

Let it be understood that I’m not advocating any sort of questionable or illicit behavior here; I’m simply suggesting that what counts as “real” isn’t the only place to spend one’s time.

Naturally, there are innumerable ways to step outside the commonplace; it’s incumbent upon each of us to decide for him or herself how to do so. An extra cup of coffee in the morning, maybe; perhaps two spoons full of sugar instead of the usual single serving; who knows?

I’m going to try pedaling extra fast on my next bike ride home. Commonplace, no way. Unreal? I guess we’ll find out.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


Three times during the last few weeks I’ve been semi right-hooked by cars and twice, at least, parked vehicles have pulled out in front of me as I’m passing them.

But this being Seattle, where everybody’s “Seattle Nice,” they’ve each stopped in the middle of their dumbfuckery and gone all apologetic, as if the fact that their three thousand pound vehicle sitting there in front of me making me have to slam on the brakes is somehow to be overlooked and I can magically continue on even though my path forward is blocked their door panels and fenders.

So I say to them: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

If you’re gonna run me off the road, just go ahead and do it already; don’t pretend that stopping halfway through your cluelessness makes it any less clueless.

I mean, I’ve already prevented myself from slamming into you; you might as well continue your turn and get the hell out of my way sooner rather than later.

Sure, I appreciate that you’ve recognized that you fucked up, but wouldn’t it have been better not to have done so in the first place? Now that you’re sitting there blocking my way, what’s the point? I’m sure you’re a lovable human being in your own way; maybe you’re just a douche behind the wheel of a car.

Like the other day, I’m rolling down Jackson Street and this Ford Bronco zips around me just in time to cut right immediately into a parking lot. I’m all like “what the fuck?” but manage to panic stop before I crash into him. But instead of completing the turn, the guy stops and gives me the “oops” look through his passenger side window. I grimace back at him and then have to swing wide around him, dangerously into the other lane’s traffic to continue on my way.

“No kindness ever goes unpunished” said Oscar Wilde; corollary for these drivers: “Your kindness is ever not punishing.”