Archive for August, 2011

Show Me Your ID

August 30, 2011
Full Parking Lot Qualcomm Stadium

Parking lot on the wall which one is the most stylish combustion engine of them all?

I have been thinking a lot about identity lately.

I know that identity means a lot of things to a lot of people, but in this case, I was thinking specifically how identity is constructed.

That is, identity is seen by most people as a solid thing, but it’s really made of pieces.

This concept may seem obvious, once stated, but it’s hard to keep in mind especially when it creates conflict.

This is important to me because, as part of my program of trying to become a better person,

For example, in the book _Difficult Conversations_, they talk about how you can often find a complete conversational road block when you begin to question someone’s identity.

This happens in ways that we don’t always expect.

One obvious way is how, in the United States, people identify
themselves with their mode of transportation.

While having some pride in oneself is admirable, as George Carlin pointed out in one of his last interviews, one should only have pride in something that one has earned.

Also, in many cultures, to earn something means to make it with your hands or at least know how to repair it.

I have at least one friend who is mocked, not for biking, but for having a car that doesn’t fit his “friend’s” particular fad at this time.

Which is funny when we look at old adverts and see the old clunkers that the cool kids drove in the past.

In the future, we are going to look ridiculous as well.

Also, I have rented nice cars before, and I was embarassed at how much better people treated me because I really hadn’t changed. All I had done was sign a piece of paper and hand over a piece of plastic.

I rented cars when I had a good job, and I rented cars when I was barely scrapping by and living in a ghetto.

So this ranking system seems to be pretty imprecise at best.

At the end of the day, we need to accept things as they are.

I accept the fact that people insist upon ranking one another based on reasons that elude me.

But if there ever is a time that I really need to impress foolish people, I know how.

Not that I foresee this happening any time soon.

I’m in a heavenverse where I can pretty much do what I want, and the most people I know are actually even MORE impressed that I ride a bicycle.

Of course, I find this, too, to be silly… 🙂

Football fans walk on "bicycle path"

Rare moment in SD: humans not encased in metal and plastic...

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The Big Winner

August 29, 2011
Fairy painting in CPH

No relation to story, a friend sent it and I liked it. Defaced Fairy painting in Copenhagen.

Lately, I have been reading books on assertiveness; long time readers probably know that social skills are my current passion. Also, I am working on a novel which sums up my findings.

However, sometimes, as part of equanimity practice, I will actually be _less_ assertive.

For example, I usually speak up before someone cuts me in line. However, some days, ahead of time so I know it’s not just me wussing out, I will decide to NOT speak up.

I’ll let everyone cut me in line, and however else they want to treat me like shit. Of course, I never tell anyone.

The goal isn’t to invite abuse, but rather to be OK with everything.

I have found that this type of attitude where I have the choice to speak up or not makes me less angry when I don’t speak up and less scared to actually defend myself. This is because I know that when I am defending myself, I thought it through and am not just getting angry and lashing out.

On a bicycle, this means I get less angry about door zone incidents and the right hook.

However, I still got angry recently, but this time it was at home.

A friend of mine posted on her wall about how she thought of my princess (and me) after taking a course that taught her that bicycles have the same rights and rules as automobiles. Often when people learn that they see the world differently when they encounter cyclists on the road.

Thus, I was happy, and I said so. But then someone else piped in, “But with the large mass of automobiles, the car always wins.”

I stewed about that for a while. Then I realized that I can either fight back and assert myself (which I usually do) or I could decide not to let it bother me.

I decided that I would let the motorist win. It’s merely a law of nature really.

Here are a few times when motorists were the big winners against bicyclists:

This guy won five years.

Sometimes bike lanes are just for bikes. Take back the lane!

Way to go big winners.

I guess sometimes it’s actually better to be a loser. 🙂

Everyone’s Gone To War

August 24, 2011

Now is the best time to ride a bicycle in San Diego ever!

And things are only going to get better!

I don’t need to enumerate all the successes; they have been told of in other places. It’s enough to say that this year things have been going better than ever for cycling in this “Finest City.” 🙂

This goes along with what a good friend of mine, Moses, said about cycling advocacy, that we shouldn’t have to argue with VC people anymore. This is because he thought that their ideas were going out of fashion.

Thanks to last week, this is totally true!

Thus, we can retire our animosity toward the Juans, Arnis, Jesses nor Kadris of the advocacy world. These people have either retired or have been retired from their positions and now can only fling shit at the rest of us from the sidelines. Well, if that’s what they want to do, I think that they should be allowed to do so. I’d proudly stand by and take it if it means that they still retain their identity as advocates while having no means to make things worse in the real world.

Which leads us to the video where people throw food at Nerina Pallot:

“And so, everybody’s going to war
But we don’t know what we’re fighting for
Don’t tell me it’s a worthy cause
No cause could be so worthy”

These people, instead of fighting, I think that we should thank. This is because one often defines oneself in relation to what one is not. And the twisted and contradictory ideas of VC are definitely what we were up against.

They’d pretend that everything was perfect for cycling in San Diego then whine about how unfair it is to schedule a VC demo which takes us up the measly hill of Texas Street. This street parallels the 163 and the 15 which are much easier inclines, but illegal for cycling. This is Juan’s legacy, and he should be proud of it, and proud to show us how awesome it is in a real live demo. Instead, he just festers in his home in Lime Copse. 🙂

Which is fine. I totally get the whole loving your enemies thing especially when they can’t hurt you. The more we hate, the more we waste time on trivialities. Also, the anger just isn’t cool after a while. Still the jokes and cheap shots were and will continue to be fun. So we really just want to have our cake and eat it, too.

With the pro-cycling people in a ascendancy, I think we should focus on the positive and on riding in the real world. Thus, I will try to write more about rainbows and toes in the sand while the waves laps against our bare feet and less about the idiot adherence to an outdated belief system.

Courteous Mass

August 22, 2011
People waiting to bicycle at night

Suckiest part of riding in a group, waiting and more waiting. Let's shut up and ride!

 

As a response to the excellent ride, Critical Mass, there’s another ride called Courteous Mass.

However, in my head, I had it mixed up and I called it Critical Manners in response to the question, “Is this critical mass.”

This ride was so big that it even made it into City Beat the piece of crap “alternative” weekly that only looks good when it sits next to the “ranting blog on paper” that is the Reader. It’s nice to see a photo of my friends in the paper!

They didn’t like the writing, though I thought that it was fantastic. In fact, I wish that I could write like Alex Zaragoza.

The only thing that I missed was to see Alex on a bicycle himself so he could get more of a first hand account of the ride. The whole, cycling is dangerous, or other nonsense reasons are so, so tired, and I’m sick of them so let’s get over it and onto a bike!

As for me, I totally enjoyed the ride except for the speeches which dragged on a it.

At first I tried to socialize, but after I had exhausted all my listeners, I cut my losses and I started to cycle around the fountain with one other rider in the hopes of starting a “critical mass” of people so we could ride.

Instead, the other cyclist gave up and moved on leaving me to weaving in between the crowds of people waiting for the ride to start.

Finally, we were off, and it felt exactly like critical mass, cocaine in the veins.

We even bombed a hill into downtown, Laurel St, I think. But on the way down someone needed a wrench. I broke the golden rule and lent it to him.

Of course, this meant getting separated from the ride. Easy in an iPhone age, right?

No, we were at the awesome pedestrian bridge way earlier so I lead every back to backtrack.

Pedestrian Bridge Fence

Took on Pedestrian Bridge when too early--backtracked for beer

On the way, we stopped by three stores which each failed to have beer. Finally, we found a place, and wrench guy bought me some beer as a reward. I thought that helping was its own reward, but I never turn down the chance for someone to do me a favor–it makes people feel good.

Finally, we regrouped.

At the end of the night we wound up at a strange club.

On the inside was lame-ass dancing that made me embarassed. I only dance Latin dance to a prescribed format. One day, I’ll merge with the music like my friend says I should.

Finally, we were on Bic’s porch sipping beer and eating carne asada fries.

We didn’t steal the hot sauce, we borrowed it.

It’s OK, he was LCI certified. 🙂

Gas Lamp Club Sign

Gas Lamp Club Sign for sucky club

Grudging Burg

August 19, 2011
Cars on Fairmont going beneath underpass

Idlylic suburban So Cal Development

I just finished the bookThe Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles this morning.

This book is indispensible for understanding Southern California including San Diego.

It focuses on bicycles not at all, but I did find that it did relate in one way.

It seems that almost all development of any kind is blocked due to a conflicting number of groups and interests including home owners, developers, business owners, environmentalists, civic boosters, and advocates for the down trodden.

This seems to lock up almost any kind of a coherent plan which makes for things to be a messy hodge podge with little actual urban development in the sense that there are tall buildings, walkable grocery stores, and so on.

On the other hand, this kind of grid lock favors a certain type of development which is sprawl. There are many reasons for this, and the book goes into great detail, but suffice it to say that it seems like when everyone wants to maximize their own personal situation with no regards to any kind of central planning, one gets a hopeless mess.

Despite this, I came away with a renewed sense of optimism because it seems that as they color everything in, there is going to be a breaking point where the only new development is going to be infilling.

Also, I feel that over time, people will get smarter.

All ready the next generation seems to be more urban focused.

Busy garage

Ah, the lovely sounds and smells of suburban development

Clothing Laws

August 18, 2011
SUV rolling down Fairmount

To me, far more scary than a female with cloth on her face...

I’m interested in clothing laws because they show me how little I actually understand about the human mind.

On the face of it, clothing laws seem really silly. Who is the government to tell me what cloth to cover my body with.

World history is rife with examples of silly looking clothing laws.

It was rumored that in the 1700’s or so, England banned plaid in Scotland because they sought to suppress the will of the Scots.

Similarly, in France and the Netherlands, they either have banned or will ban face covering. This has been debated over grounds of suppressing Islam versus the notion of the insecurity of the state with regards to people just wandering around the streets of Paris with their faces covered by a bit of cloth and even national pride in a secular culture.

Even the United States had some kerfluffle regarding clothing laws when they tried to ban gang colored head coverings. The idiot school administration mindlessly applied the same law to a single little girl who wanted to cover her head because that’s what she believed in.

As an American, I am inclined to be against all clothing laws because my mind has been marinated in the juices of the belief in maximizing individual freedom as much as possible.

On the other hand, I personally can’t really get riled up about this issue. I just don’t care. If someone tells me I can’t wear a shorts while I ride my bicycle, it might piss me off. But overall, I am very used to being bossed around regarding my wardrobe, having gone to schools which made me wear a uniform. Also, there are job interviews where I wear what I am expected and smile about it.

This is being from an all ready “modern” country.

In other countries, usually in the Muslim world, clothing laws were seen as a way to rapidly modernize.

Smile now, but people really put a lot of stock into appearance and they respect the well dressed.

In order to be respected in the Western World, Attaturk banned the fez and head coverings. This and many other reforms has resulted in rapid modernization of Turkey after World War I to the point that during the breakup of the USSR, Turkey was able to make a serious bid to control some of the Central Asian republics through economic and cultural exchange.

You have come a long way, baby. 🙂

Many other countries in the Muslim world have clothing laws which either promote or restrict head coverings depending upon the leader’s religious views.

To go on record, I’m against any religious persecution in the United States based upon clothing laws. We are a super-powerful country, and we need to regrow our pairs so that we can focus on bigger dangers in the world than pieces of cloth which only serve as a convenient distraction.

Fear no cloth, people.

Which finally brings me to my point.

Today while cycling I noticed how extroverted I am. Part of it is my forced extroversion because I feel like it is for my own good, happiness wise and success wise.

On the other hand, I noticed that I was the only person who was showing his face. Everyone else had…well…some sort of head covering.

It wasn’t religious, unless you consider the need for speed (but I _have_ to drive) a religion. 🙂

But I do wonder at places like France, where driving with one’s head covered is allowed, but women aren’t allowed to cover their faces.

SARCASM ON

I imagine that a woman covering her head while WALKING around is more dangerous to the public than the same woman who’s head is covered with tinted windows and who can literally run away at several times the speed of the fastest human alive.

SARCASM OFF

When I see inconsistencies like these, I recall the most people reason morally. This means that they come to the thing that they want (ban public displays of religion) then they justify it later with notions that sound good, but are actually total nonsense like “public safety”.

Which reminds me of the notion of “noise words” which I had read about recently: words that seem to mean something, but when examined have no meaning at all. In most cases, “safety” and “terrorism” is used in this way.

For years, when someone said certain key words, a red flag went up and in a few more seconds, I could see that these people were just talking hogwash.

After all, if they get their way, they can still drive around with potential child molesters, drive bys, car bombs, and mafia style run over assasinations, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her cute cross necklace would be banned.

And that’s the real tragedy. 🙂

Two cars rolling down Fairmount towards camera

Not nearly as scary as it looks...

Mental Incapacity is Ecstasy

August 17, 2011

This almost looks like an endorsement for brain damage or perhaps for drug usage, but I wrote it that way to question the whole idea that “ignorance is bliss”.

I actually believe that the wiser someone is the happier that they are.

The funny this is that this has been disputed by many people especially by my friends whom I consider to be wiser than me!

Still, I have to say, that I have found happiness most of all through a great deal of practice and effort.

I think that the main reason that people don’t tap into happiness research today as well as using the techniques that are available from ancient times is because they are either not aware of them or do not believe that they work.

Thus, I see, in a sense, that some faith is important. That is faith in ourselves and our abilities to make ourselves happier.

Today I found out some interesting things about happiness.

For one thing, I was confused by the hedonic treadmill which states that when you reach a certain level of success, you reset your mind to accommodate for it, and you are no longer happy with it.

This does apply to things like money and weather.

However, it does NOT apply to other things like relationships and hobbies in part because these things are choices and take effort.

See, knowing this, one can make choices to increase one’s happiness. I am definitely focusing on my hobbies and healthy friendships with as many people as possible.

In the past, I believed that I only had so much “friendship energy”, and I had to conserve for the best people in my life.

Now I just take people as they come.

Another big part of happiness is one’s set point.

There is some base level of happiness (or unhappiness) in all of us. I have seen some people, like Kim in the band Matt and Kim, who smile all the time for no good reason. This has inspired me to try to more like her.

Through reading research, I learned that one’s base line happiness is called the “set point” and that this can be changed through only a few ways: drugs (temporarily like ProzacTM), meditation, and cognitive therapy. The latter two are permanent that is, one’s set point naturally stays higher even after you quit. Prozac is like most drugs in that it makes you feel better when you are on it, and when you aren’t you’re back to where you started unless you use the Prozac high to practice the latter two skills.

I do both of the latter everyday. In fact, I almost (almost!) welcome insomnia as it gives me a chance to meditate.

These days I’m doing more cognitive therapy than meditation, using my mind to try to figure out why I choose to feel the wrong ways.

All of this is knowledge and wisdom, and back when I was younger and dumber instead of working on myself, I’d lash out at the world.

This ignorance was not blissful at all.

Dialog w/ Angry Motorist

August 16, 2011

If you get to have one:

You: Hello, nice to meet you, I am Fred, what is your name?

(If they choose not to talk to you.)

You: Why did you choose to open a dialog it you won’t even introduce yourself?

(If they shake your hand and introduce themselves.)

You: Would you like to pull over now or would you like to take my email address and arrange to meet latter?

(If they say yes, meet them. Listen to what they have to say, and respond with respect and logic. If you were wrong apologize. Let them know what the law is.)

(If they say “no” then ask them

You: Why were you so eager to open a dialog with you if they didn’t feel like following up on it?

If you feel the least bit uncomfortable tell them to pull over and to wait for the police.

If they flee then get their license plate and report and “erratic” driver. If there were children let them know.

Remember to speak clearly and calmly at all times.

The Cycling Environment

August 11, 2011

Often, as a cyclist, I am labeled as being an environmentalist, but for some reason, I bristle at the accusation.

Until now, I have not really examined my feelings to discover _why_ I feel this way.

Initially, it could be due to my not wanting to be labeled at all.

But it’s also because these kinds of labels separates me from others. Calling me an “environmentalist” implies that the caller is NOT an environmentalist.

Motorists NEVER call one another motorists, for example, but I do it all the time because in this way I _am_ different.

Regarding environmentalism, I am not.

Like most of my political views, my opinion is to take the middle ground in order to maximize my own happiness.

I have found the trouble (and stupidity) usually lies on the fringes of ideas. This is because humans don’t operate by emotion or logic or a higher cause as much as we are run purely by habit. And being too different makes it hard to interact with others.

There’s more, too, as this is a subject that I have thought deeply and hard about.

For one thing, I am not going to leave behind anyone. So there’s no selfish reason for me to care about the environment because there are no children to leave the world to.

A friend of mine did point out that I still might be screwed if I get reincarnated on this planet. Since I believe all religions to be totally true, I believe in reincarnation (as well as heaven, hell, and the complete emptiness of the human mind as my brain flatlines).

On the other hand, there’s little to say that my individual actions do anything to help the planet.

Thus, I have come to a rough compromise regarding the planet.

I think that it’s silly to purposely trash one’s planet. Thus, if there’s an easy way to do so, I will be environmentally sound. This includes cloth napkins, composting, eschewing paper plates, and riding my bicycle.

On the other hand, there are some superstitious ways that I could be trying to help the environment only they don’t work such as saving water to an absurd length. I don’t waste water, but I don’t get uptight about it, either.

I mean what do you do with someone who recycles all their aluminum cans and uses cloth diapers and at the same time pumps out ten kids and drives a Hummer?

Oh, and I’m not sure that riding a bicycle over riding a car is even more environmentally friendly and most “environmentalists” do agree with me.

In fact, most people who call themselves environmentalists do drive cars.

Overall, I have no problem with Hummer drivers except their ugly taste in vehicles. I mean really, if you want to look tough walk through a ghetto. Better yet, get in a fight in a ghetto and run back here in one piece. Hiding behind big sheets of metal, strangely enough, doesn’t impress me.

Not that I think it’s a good idea to try to look tough in the first place. My goal is to present a friendly face at the same time not come off as a total pushover.

Part of my friendliness is sharing the fun I have cycling. I believe that one of the easiest way to see if what you are doing is moral is to see how you feel when other people do it.

For example, when I am in heavy bicycle traffic, I’m very happy because I love it when other people bicycle. Thus, I feel that it’s moral to bicycle.

But I don’t let morality get in the way of fun!

I guess this is why I don’t like the whole austerity notion of environmentalism (nor exercise) getting in the way of why I bicycle.

Signs of a Quisling Advocate

August 9, 2011
Bike Path Blocked by Automobiles

Quisling Parking: They bitch to get off the road then the block bike paths with their cars...

All this talk of Quisling Hood isn’t meant to be a downer, but rather and upper.

For one thing, the Forces of Darkness are receding faster than their hairlines, and the younger generation is putting on a much better showing in terms of advocacy.

However, things are not yet perfect or even good enough to recommend cycling to anyone who doesn’t bleed green, is not a dare devil athlete, or is bike loving like me.

Thus, we should still know thy enemy.

How do we separate the Quisling cyclists from the real ones?

As the good book says, “You will recognize them by their fruits…” and Quislings are quite fruity. 🙂

http://esv.scripturetext.com/matthew/7.htm

I find that the Quisling are recognized by the following fruits (or signs):

The first sign is “motoring” which is the primary way that Quislings get around. If pressed on the matter, they make all sorts of excuses which are OK just like Ford workers driving around in Toyotas.

The second sign is “microscope” which is what Quislings put each piece of legislation, only, that will help cyclists. As I said before, there’s not a bike path they hate nor a closed off, car only freeway that they don’t love.

Finally, they are bossy, again to cyclists only. They write posts which ask us to be “considerate” as if we are children or something. Note, that we don’t tell people who are above us to be “considerate”. Actually, we don’t order about anyone who’s not a child or a subordinate.

If you run into someone who displays one or all of these signs bike–don’t walk–away.

They will pretend to be your friend, pretend to like you then when your back is turned, they will knife you in the back, and you’ll be cold and alone, riding along side of a highway–but not freeway because they oppose freeway riding, too.

Don’t argue with a Quisling because they are total time-wasters.

Cyclist on a bridge

Rare sighting: Another Cyclist Riding on Bridge over Fairmount

The end.